Global Ethics: An Introduction
Reviewer: Manas Ranjan Pati (University Of Hyderabad)
IMPORTANT: CEJISS is not associated with resellers. CEJISS is not responsible for the content of external links.
Kimberly Hutchings, in her book entitled: Global Ethics: An Introduction, clearly explains “Global Ethics” as a field of theoretical inquiry that addresses ethical questions which ariseing out of truly global interconnections and interdependence. The first chapter focuses on the constituent terms of global ethics. Concisely, Hutchings examines debates over the meaning of “Global,” and “Ethics,” the distinction between “ethics” as a mode of philosophical inquiry and “ethics” as sets of substantive principles and values, and the relation and distinction between “ethics” and “morality,” “ethics” and “politics.” She then explores how world religions claim to provide answers to the questions raised by Global Ethics. The second chapter focuses on rationalist ethical perspectives that first gained prominence in Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and which have helped shape debates on Global Ethics. The third chapter offers an introductory exposition of alternative theories of ethics to enable scholars to reflect on their assumptions and implications for the nature of moral judgement and action in general. Chapter four deal with ethics of International aid and development. Humanitarian aid is intended to address immediate and extreme situations of need, such as famines or the consequences of natural or man-made disasters. Developmental aid is intended to address ongoing, systemic poverty. This chapter deals with the ethical debates surrounding emergency aid, and ethical issues raised by ecological constraints on global economic development together with the idea of “sustainable development.” Both chapters 4 and 5 deal with ethical questions of distribution and redistribution of global wealth and, between them, enable scholars to address the question of whether redistribution of global wealth is a matter of charity or a matter of justice.
In chapter 5 Hutchings assesses some attempts at developing a global theory of distributive justice which could then provide a yardstick by which not only the ethics of development projects or humanitarian aid could be analysed but the justice of global economic arrangements in general. Hutchings identifies five ethical issues that are central to debates about global distributive justice. In chapter six, in contrast to the ethics of international humanitarian and development aid or global distributive justice, the ethics of war was the focus of explicit theological, political and philosophical argument for a long time. In this chapter Hutchings scrutinises some ethical perspectives contemporary arguments about the ethics of war and the ways in which they have been applied to recent developments in international and global conflicts. She focused on Walzer – the most well known contemporary exponent of the ethics of war – who draws on the just war theory tradition but reformulates it in terms of modern ethical perspectives and modern accents of political community. In this chapter Hutchings introduced traditional just war theory as a complex amalgam of different types of ethical reasoning which could not act as an algorithm for determining the justice of war. Instead it provides a series of starting points for the exercise of phronesis, or moral judgement.
Chapter seven deals with ethics of making and sustaining peace, the aim of this chapter is to map out the terrain of debates surrounding the ethics of making and keeping peace which, according to some theorists, constitutes a third aspect of just war theory, just past bellum. She argues that moral debates about the meaning of just peace make it clearer than ever that the issue of the authority of ethical claims is an ethical issue that is at the heart of Global Ethics. Additionally, chapter eight focuses on issues that are generally agreed to be global, in the sense that questions about distributive justice, war and peace are embedded in the ways in which different parts of the world share significant commonalities or are reciprocally interconnected and mutually dependent, or both. This chapter focuses on the ways in which the challenge of global ethical disagreement can be met, from the point of view of the different perspectives with which we are concerned.
The conclusion suggests that debates concerning glocal ethical issues set an important future agenda for global ethics, which requires a greater engagement with the who and how questions central to virtue, feminist and postmodern ethics. This book conducts a “theoretical enquiry” into ethics, as opposed to a history of ethical debates is an ambitious, accessible and interesting book, which raises several key questions surrounding contemporary international law, and the ethical systems which influence these laws.
This book is designed as an aid to all levels of scholarship. The book is written as a continuous argument with each chapter building on the previous one. Each chapter makes suggestions for further reading and provides a brief comment on what each piece of further reading covers. The references – at the end of each chapter – include further introductory material as well as more advanced readings. Each chapter includes a series of reflective exercises. The focus throughout the book is to grasp of the complex ideas and issues that form the subject matter of Global Ethics. Global Ethics explores many difficult questions and a range of complex and fascinating ways of answering them.
Hutchings provides an outstanding example of a textbook in international political and ethical theory. The book guides the best way to respond to the ethical dilemmas that constitute the modern international order which offers an overview and assessment of key perspectives in global ethics and their implications for substantive moral issues in global politics. The aim of the book is to help scholars students understand the assumptions underpinning different moral traditions and to enable them to make up their own minds about the best way of approaching moral judgment and prescription in a shared world, which is nevertheless marked by massive cultural differences and inequalities of power. Hutchings extraordinary scholarly analyses make this book a masterpiece on the subject concerned.