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Introduction: how might we live? Global ethics in a new century

Booth, Ken, Dunne, Tim and Cox, Michael (2001) Introduction: how might we live? Global ethics in a new century. In: Booth, Ken, Dunne, Tim and Cox, Michael, (eds.) How Might We Live? Global Ethics in the New Century. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1 - 28. ISBN 9780521005203

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Identification Number: 10.1017/CBO9780511752209.002

Abstract

Choice is at the heart of ethics, but our choices are never entirely free. Human choice is fettered by history, by context, by biology, by expected consequences and by imagination. Every choice has a history, and a price. In world politics, the scope for choice seems particularly fettered. Historical and geographical contextualization, and projected price have meant that politics beyond state borders has traditionally been understood as an arena of necessity, not ethics. Choice may never be entirely free, but neither is it totally determined; to argue it is, as a result of biology, the unconscious, predestination or whatever would be to abolish ethics. This is not our position, or that of the contributors. We do however recognize that the fettering of ethical choice begins at birth. Humans are nationalized or tribalized once we are born almost as quickly as we are genderized. We learn to live in concentric circles of loyalty, sympathy, duty and conceptions of justice; and for the most part, the tighter the circle, the stronger have been the moral codes shaping behaviour. Even so, the idea that there are natural limits to ethics has not gone uncontested. There has been a long tradition—while still privileging the family bond—which has stressed the need to think ethically from the outside inwards, rather than the opposite. Conceiving ethics from what Henry Sidgwick called ‘the point of view of the universe’ (an all-embracing perspective which accords strangers no less consideration than one's own kind, however defined) has been a two-thousand year tradition.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL: https://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/pol...
Additional Information: © 2001 British International Studies Association
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2008 10:08
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2020 23:18
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/9888

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