Simply link your Qantas Frequent Flyer membership number to your Booktopia account and earn points on eligible orders. Either by signing into your account or linking your membership details before your order is placed. Your points will be added to your account once your order is shipped. Click on the cover image above to read some pages of this book! This book contemplates the ethics of responsibility in a large range of meanings, consequences and impacts.
It reflects the perspectives and reasoning of 25 authors from all continents. In this book, responsibility is considered an essential trait of character, not only in the business or governmental arenas but in any initiative, decision and activity. With this connotation in mind, responsibility is a "second nature" to some people, while to others it is a struggle against the aim of acquiring a virtue that is crucial for life in society.
The contributions to this book focus on responsibility in different dimensions, directly or indirectly, on a personal level, in management, or on a macro level, pointing out current concepts, situations and the impact on humankind as a whole. The book is intended for academics, researchers and professionals in all continents who are dedicated to Ethics, Business Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility, Social Innovation, and Sustainability Management. Help Centre.
Track My Order. This gives us a minimum framework to work with, a framework derived from the labor of many minds over many centuries, what the history of philosophy and the evolution of international law have bequeathed to us all. This framework—a global ethic in the singular and international ethics in the plural—provides a starting point for a global dialogue about what we share and do not share as human beings.
It must be admitted, however, that a lot of important people seem to think we lack a common framework and need to start afresh. In the German theologian Hans Kung compiled a universal declaration of duties because he believed rights talk was too individualistic and failed to capture essential features of the human good.
Rights talk does have notorious limitations as a language of the human good. What rights talk does so well is to correlate specific rights holders and their claims with determinate duty holders.
Rights talk will remain an essential component of any global ethic, precisely because the protections it affords can be demanded by actual individuals. If a global ethic cannot empower discrete, identifiable individuals, in all their singularity, with specific claims that they can enforce against those who oppress them, what is it good for? Many religious and spiritual systems insist that ethical duty takes the form of a divine command, but not all ethical systems do. Indeed, many of the human values that orient and guide human conduct have no divine or metaphysical foundation. Spiritual yearnings are universal features of human experience, yet it is not obvious why an ethic has to be grounded in these yearnings or the spiritual claims that arise from them.
An ethic can have secular foundations without making final claims about the truth of these foundations.
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These secular foundations include indisputable facts about human beings, such as our need for love and our abhorrence of undeserved cruelty. What the French philosopher Jacques Maritain initially said about human rights in —that we can agree we have them, and even specify what they are, without agreeing on why we have them—is true of a global ethic more generally. This intellectual strategy—focusing on where we agree and bracketing infinitely contestable claims—made possible the limited consensus that sustains international human rights conventions.
Reimagining a global ethic would have to work on the same basis, reaching out to common ground where such exists, while agreeing to disagree about the claim that ethical conduct must be derived from a spiritual or religious duty. Another site of discussion of a global ethic is found where science and philosophy meet. Philosophers and scientists have sought through dialogues to uncover the common ground of ethics in human nature or in the latest findings in psychology, genetics, or neurobiology.
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In what follows I am going to bracket these metaphysical, Darwinian, and neurobiological issues and focus on the global ethic we have and the global ethics codified in international law, and argue that the proper work of reimagining a global ethic is to think harder about the conflicts of principle between them. We need to distinguish at least three levels at which these conflicts arise. First, we live in a morally pluralistic world divided into communities of action and belief, each of which acts upon different principles.
These communities disagree with each other about the content of the good. Second, people within these communities disagree about what shared principles commit them to do in moral life. Third, even where there is agreement across different moral communities about principles held in common, it will be apparent that the shared principles themselves conflict with each other.
It is this last conflict, between the principles themselves, within a global ethic itself, and within the competing ethical systems incarnated in international law, that I want to turn to now. This starting premise implies a particular vantage point. Joseph Carens, Michael Walzer, Michael Blake, and Thomas Hurka, just to name a few of the global ethicists I have in mind, have asked why states should have the right to impose visa and immigration quotas on some but not all human beings, why states have the right to expel noncitizens, and why they so grossly favor their own citizens over people living in other countries in the distribution of global resources.
The one-world perspective that emerges from the work of these philosophers has provided a common moral vocabulary that drives the activism of civil society NGOs everywhere. It is a philosophy in service of a sustained critique of the way power is exercised by states, corporations, and national communities against the common interests of mankind; and thanks to the work of these philosophers, many people have a richer and keener sense of what these common interests should be.
As a politics, however, the one-world perspective is failing to make much headway. States are no closer to a morally rational way of allocating responsibility for action on climate change. Countries still impose immigration quotas, and few countries have met their global justice obligations to the poorest on Earth.
A global ethical discourse flourishes in universities and civil society, but it has made limited progress against the ethical practice of states. Some global ethicists attribute the political failure of a global ethic to selfish national interest. There is no doubt that politicians are partial, and that the political drivers of state action at the domestic level are relentlessly local.
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The universal barely registers. Yet the problem runs deeper than that. Democratic publics do not actually believe the universal should trump their local interests. They believe, if asked to think about it, that their own interests as a national community ought to prevail over assistance to peoples in other countries, and they do not see why they are required to make sacrifices in relation to such abstract issues as climate change. I would not want to dignify this localism with much moral stature, but neither do I want to dismiss it as mere prejudice.
It is a symptom of a conflict, at least in states with popular suffrage, between two principles: between democracy and justice, between the value we attach to self-determination of peoples and the value we attach to abstract justice for all individuals. National communities, in other words, have some good reasons, as well as some not so good ones, to privilege local ahead of universal priorities and interests.
Giving moral priority to our own children, families, people, or society is natural and defensible enough. The issue is how much of the inequality that can result is defensible. The strength of a global ethic is to pose that question and to force the local to defend the inequality that results.
At a formal level, this is a conflict between what democracy permits and what justice demands. Isaiah Berlin observed long ago that absolute values such as these conflict absolutely. All good things cannot be had at once. Others, including justice versus mercy, or liberty versus equality, are just as familiar. Given these antinomies, it is not obvious how a global ethic can be an internally consistent noncontradictory rank ordering of moral goods.
Instead, a global ethic is better understood not as a series of propositions, but as a site of argument in which the particular is called to the bar of justification before the universal. A global ethic creates the possibility of a process of recurrent adversarial justification. It is not itself immune from the obligation to justify. We can see what this means in relation to justice and democracy.
Challenges for Ethics in a Global Context
Democratic communities have the right to balance what they owe to their own members against what they owe to strangers beyond their borders. Because politics everywhere is local, a global ethic, privileging universal rather than proximate duties, may prevail at certain moments but will never trump in practical politics.
Democratic choice will be ordered by the preferences of citizens, and free debate among citizens will determine the distribution of scarce resources between domestic and international claims to them. What this means in practice is that democratic peoples have the right to be wrong about justice.
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