The Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs will turn one hundred years old in February 2014. Andrew Carnegie founded the Council in 1914 with a specific purpose in mind: he thought it was possible to avoid the Great War that he and many others believed was on the horizon. In fact, he approached the […]
For me, the challenge for those committed to a global ethic is not to make better arguments, to point out more contradictions, to seek greater justification—though, of course, as Ignatieff eloquently argues, these tasks remain vital. Rather, we must
devise a way to engage democratic leaders and polities, to challenge them (us!) to think and act according to a universal global ethic that treats all humans, and their human rights, equally.
True to the spirit of Isaiah Berlin, Ignatieff’s is a cosmopolitanism shorn of any totalizing impulse. Its ultimate value is dialogue; its ultimate requirement is that we submit our ideals to the challenges posed by other perspectives. It is a comforting view, but also bracing—in holding that, while philosophers should continue doing what they have been doing, they cannot do so by talking only to themselves.
In this essay I will not address the content of a global ethic—that is, the particular rights and responsibilities it assigns—but shall instead comment on several essential preliminaries. First, I will reflect on what defines a global ethic. Second, I will consider two important objections to global ethics. Finally, I will suggest the appropriate attitude to adopt toward its pursuit.
In the lead essay of this symposium, Michael Ignatieff offers a characteristic blend of philosophical acuteness and political good sense on a topic that, we can all agree, is central to many of the most important questions on the contemporary political and international agenda. His analysis is prescient, challenging, and deserves pondering at some length; […]
“National communities,” Michael Ignatieff writes in his thoughtful essay on the prospects for a global ethic, “have some good reasons, as well as some not so good ones, to privilege local ahead of universal priorities and interests. And he goes on to explain the clash of local and universal priorities as rooted in a conflict […]