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Thomas Pogge - Yale University. New Haven, CT, US

Thomas Pogge

Director, Global Justice Program ; Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs | Yale University


Examining solutions to issues of global inequality and justice in health care are long-standing concerns for this Yale professor & author



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Thomas Pogge is the Director of the Global Justice Program and the Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University.

Pogge's work has examined such specific issues as extreme poverty and the responsibility of others in eradicating it, justice in health care, human rights, justice for people with disabilities, pharmaceutical research and global access to medicines, and moral philosophy and ethics, among other topics.

His book "World Poverty and Human Rights" is considered one of the most important works on global justice. He is particularly known for his argument that the global rich have a "positive duty" to help others in need as well as a "negative duty" not to contribute to the imposition of global institutional order that impedes the fulfillment of basic socioeconomic rights.

Having received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard, Thomas Pogge has published widely on Kant and in moral and political philosophy, including various books on Rawls and global justice. In addition to his Yale appointment, he is the Research Director of the Centre for the Study of the Mind in Nature at the University of Oslo and a Professorial Research Fellow at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics.

With support from the Australian Research Council, the UK-based BUPA Foundation and the European Commission (7th Framework) he currently heads a team effort towards developing a complement to the pharmaceutical patent regime that would improve access to advanced medicines for the poor worldwide and toward developing better indices of poverty and gender equity.

The philosopher has been a visiting fellow or scholar at the University of Maryland, the Princeton University Center for Human Values All Souls College at Oxford University and in the Department of Clinical Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health.

He has led graduate seminars at schools throughout Europe and in Brazil, Taiwan and China, and has delivered more than 900 lectures in 42 countries. Pogge is also editor for social and political philosophy for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science.

Industry Expertise (8)

Public Policy



Government Relations



Writing and Editing

Health and Wellness

Areas of Expertise (4)

Ethics and Moral Philosophy

Globalization and Inequality

Justice in Health Care

Social and Political Philosophy

Accomplishments (9)

Director – Global Justice Program at the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University (professional)

Launched in 2008 by Thomas Pogge, the Global Justice Program unites an interdisciplinary group of scholars with the aim of taking morality seriously in shaping foreign policy and in negotiating transnational institutional arrangements. The program has a special interest in the evolution of severe poverty and its relationship with public health. The program supports the work of the Global Justice Fellows and their projects, including the Health Impact Fund and Academics Stand Against Poverty.

President, Director – Health Impact Fund (professional)

The Health Impact Fund (HIF) is a new way of stimulating research and development of life-saving pharmaceuticals. To provide wide access to the most effective pharmaceuticals, prices need to be affordable. Low prices, however, do not create strong incentives for innovators to invest in research and development. Financed mainly by governments, the HIF would offer pharmaceutical firms the option to be rewarded according to a new product’s health impact, if they agree to sell it at cost.

Author – Politics as Usual: What Lies Behind the Pro-Poor Rhetoric (professional)


Worldwide, human lives are rapidly improving. Heavily promoted by Western governments and media, this comforting view of the world is widely shared, at least among the affluent. Pogge's book presents an alternative view: Poverty and oppression persist on a massive scale; political and economic inequalities are rising dramatically both intra-nationally and globally. A powerful moral analysis that shows what Western states would do if they really cared about the values they profess.

Author – World Poverty and Human Rights: Cosmopolitan Responsibilities and Reforms (professional)


Some 2.5 billion human beings live in severe poverty, deprived of such essentials as adequate nutrition, safe drinking water, basic sanitation, adequate shelter, literacy, and basic health care. Just 1 percent of the national incomes of the high-income countries would suffice to end severe poverty worldwide. Most citizens of affluent countries believe that we are doing nothing wrong. Thomas Pogge seeks to explain how this belief is sustained.

Author – John Rawls: His Life and Theory of Justice (professional)


John Rawls was one of the most important political philosophers of our time, and promises to be an enduring figure over the coming decades. Thomas Pogge's short introduction gives a thorough and concise presentation of the main outlines of Rawls's theory, introduces biographical information when necessary, and draws links between the Rawlsian enterprise and other important positions in moral and political philosophy.

Editor / Author – Global Financial Crisis: The Ethical Issues (professional)


The Global Financial Crisis is acknowledged to be the most severe economic downturn since the 1930s, and one that is unique in its underlying causes, its scope, and its wider social, political and economic implications. This volume explores some of the ethical issues that it has raised.

Editor / Author – Freedom from Poverty as a Human Right: Who Owes What to the Very Poor? (professional)


Collected here are cutting-edge essays by leading academics which together clarify and defend the claim that freedom from poverty is a human right with corresponding binding obligations on the more affluent to practice effective poverty avoidance. The authors largely agree in concluding that there is a human right to be free from poverty and that this right is massively violated by the present world economy which creates huge unfair imbalances in income and wealth among and within countries.

Author – Global Justice: Seminal Essays (professional)


Global Justice is part of a two-volume set (with Global Ethics) that will aid in the study of global justice and global ethical issues with significant global dimensions. Some of those issues directly concern what individuals, countries, and other associations ought to do in response to various global problems, such as poverty, population growth, and climate change. Others concern the concepts that are commonly used to discuss such issues, such as "development" and "human rights."

Author – Global Ethics: Seminal Essays (professional)


Global Ethics, along with its companion volume Global Justice, will aid in the study of global justice and global ethical issues with significant global dimensions. In recent decades, literature on such issues has started to build up in the Western philosophical tradition. Until now, though, no up-to-date sample of this literature has been available. These two books, companion volumes sold separately, fill this gap by providing a sample of the best recent work on these themes.

Education (2)

Hamburg University: Diplom in Soziologie 1977

Highest Honors ; thesis on Peirce and Habermas

Harvard University: Ph.D., Philosophy 1983

Dissertation on Kant, Rawls, and global justice

Event Appearances (21)

Medicine for the 99 percent

TEDxCanberra 2011  Canberra, Australia


Education and Sustainable Development – Two Sides of the Same Coin?

Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum  Bonn, Germany



2010 Society for Applied Philosophy Annual Conference   St. Anne’s College, Oxford



CSRB Conference – Global Justice: Norms and Limits  University of Bucharest



Global Poverty: What Do We Know? Where Do We Go From Here?  Yale University



Medicines for Neglected Diseases Workshop  Boston University



Rice University Lecture Series on Ethics, Politics and Society  Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy


Gender and the Measurement of Poverty

Center for Global Ethics & Politics Speaker Series  City University of New York


Coercion and Poverty: How First- and Second-Generation Human Rights Relate

Poverty, Coercion, and Human Rights  Loyola University, Chicago


What Do Human Rights Demand from You and Me?

Institute for Democracy and Human Rights Speaker Series  University of Sydney, Australia


World Poverty: Explanations and Responsibilities

Carnegie Mellon's Humanities Center Lecture Series  Carnegie Mellon University



Millennium Development Goals and Human Rights  Harvard Law School


Gender Differences in Poverty

Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics Lecture Series  Barton, Australian Capital Territory



UAlbany Graduate Philosophy Conference  University at Albany, SUNY



Advancing Public Philosophy Conference  Washington, DC



International Conference on Access and Benefit Sharing for Genetic Resources  New Delhi, India



2011 Stegley Lecture  Melbourne, Australia



Responsible Innovation Conference 2011  The Hague, the Netherlands



EuroNGOs Conference: Future Perspectives on Development Cooperation – Putting SRHR on the Right Track  Warsaw, Poland


KEYNOTE SPEECH: Lighting Many Fires With ASAP (Academics Stand Against Poverty)

Impact: Global Poverty UK Launch Meeting  University of Birmingham


Are We All in the Soup?

TEDxYale 2012  Yale University


Sample Talks (3)

Medicine for the 99 percent

Thomas Pogge discusses the critical global health problem of "Medicine for the 99 percent" in this talk. He focuses on ways to develop necessary pharmaceutical drugs and to secure medications for pressing global health issues. Thomas also describes his work with the Health Impact Fund and his proposal of a $6 billion plan to decrease this unequal distribution and focus more money towards diseases with the highest global burden.

Medicines for Neglected Diseases

Novel reward systems are needed to develop valuable, life-enhancing biomedical technologies and to ensure that people in poor countries, and the government programmes that often pay for treatment, can afford them. The Health Impact Fund will be discussed as an enduring, systematic reform to give pharmaceutical innovators stable financial incentives to develop new medicines for the world’s poor and to sell them worldwide at no more than the lowest feasible cost of production and distribution.

What Do Human Rights Demand from You and Me?

Many human beings do not have all their human rights fulfilled. A better world must surely be possible. But who has what obligations to help bring it about? What do we really owe distant strangers? And is this debt measured in resources we sacrifice or in gains thereby achieved for those in need? Political philosopher, Thomas Pogge, looks at the big questions that confront all of us concerned with human rights and global justice today.


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