Pyramids of Sacrifice: Political Ethics and Social Change

Pyramids of Sacrifice: Political Ethics and Social Change

Pyramids of Sacrifice: Political Ethics and Social Change

Pyramids of Sacrifice: Political Ethics and Social Change

Excerpt

This book deals with two topics, which are intertwined throughout. One is Third World development. The other is political ethics as applied to social change. It seems to me that these two topics belong together. No humanly acceptable discussion of the anguishing problems of the world's poverty can avoid ethical considerations. And no political ethics worthy of the name can avoid the centrally important case of the Third World. It follows from these assumptions that this book is not primarily a scholarly work in the sense of "value-free science." It tries to bring together scientific analysis and ethical concern, with a full awareness of the risks of such a conjunction (one of the risks, needless to say, is being dismissed as a bleeding-heart idealist by one's scientific colleagues). It also follows that the book is addressed to a rather mixed audience —those concerned with development and social change, those concerned with the relation of social-scientific analysis to policy, and finally those with an interest in raising ethical questions in the political arena. In other words, I hope that this book has something to say to the professionals in the areas of development and "policy research," but I'm also anxious to address myself to that larger audience that (perhaps optimistically) has been called the "moral constituency" in this country.

At least this side of pure mathematics (and, for all I know, even in that realm), most books are rooted in biography. But the biographical background is not always relevant to the understanding of a book. In this instance it might help to explain briefly how I came to have these particular interests.

I became interested in the problems of Third World development by way of concern with American policies in Indochina. In 1968 I was invited to serve as a "consultant" to the steering committee of Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam (which . . .

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