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Philosopher Thomas Pogge to Addresses Issues of Poverty in W&L Lecture

Thomas W. Pogge, the Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University, will present a lecture titled “Do the Global Poor have Human Rights?” at Washington and Lee University on Tuesday, March 17, at 7:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium of the James G. Leyburn Library.

Pogge’s lecture is free and open to the public.

His presentation at W&L is sponsored by the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability and the Class of 63 Endowment.

Pogge’s work on political philosophy, especially the work of philosophers John Rawls and Immanuel Kant, examines issues of extreme poverty, justice in health care, and human rights, among other topics.

He is the author of the 2002 volume, “World Poverty and Human Rights,” which is widely considered one of the most important works on global justice. This book articulates Pogge’s argument that the world’s wealthy have a duty not to harm the poor and that this “negative duty” requires those of us who benefit from global institutions that harm the poor to take positive actions to reform those institutions. 
Satisfying our “negative duty” is sufficient to fulfill human socio-economic rights for the vast majority of the one-third of the world population in severe poverty.

Pogge earned his undergraduate degree at Hamburg University in Germany and his Ph.D. in philosophy at Harvard University where he studied under Rawls. He taught at Columbia University from 1983 until he moved to the professorship at Yale in 2008. He currently holds adjunct appointments at the Australian National University’s Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics and the philosophy department at the University of Oslo, Norway.

Pogge is also the author of “Realizing Rawls,” “John Rawls” and “John Rawls: His Life and Theory of Justice.” He is the co-editor of “Freedom from Poverty as a Human Right: Who Owes What to the Very Poor?” and “Real World Justice,” and is co-author of “The Health Impact Fund: Making New Medicines Accessible for All,” among other volumes.

Students in business administration and politics, as well as in W&L’s Shepherd program, have been assigned Pogge’s book. The Shepherd program integrates academic study and learning through service and reflection. It endeavors to inform our students about poverty and what can be done to foster human capabilities for communities and individuals who have been left behind in domestic and international development.