Ethics and International Affairs: A Reader

Ethics and International Affairs: A Reader

Ethics and International Affairs: A Reader

Ethics and International Affairs: A Reader


The third edition of Ethics & International Affairs provides a fresh selection of classroom resources, ideal for courses in international relations, ethics, foreign policy, and related fields. Published with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, this collection contains some of the best contemporary scholarship on international ethics, written by a group of distinguished political scientists, political theorists, philosophers, applied ethicists, and economic development specialists. Each contributor explores how moral theory can inform policy choices regarding topics such as war and intervention, international organizations, human rights, and global economic justice. This book provides an entry point into these key debates and offers a platform for further discussion.

Published in cooperation with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs


Ethics & International Affairs—the quarterly journal of the Carnegie Council—is now in its third decade. the inaugural issue appeared in 1987, when the idea of a world without the Soviet Union was not yet seriously considered, and ethics and public policy at the international level were debated within the confines of controlling ideas, such as “containment” and “moral equivalence.” More than twenty years later we still find value in realist frameworks, yet we also welcome the growth of a new, less encumbered literature addressing issues of global scope and concern.

Contributors to Ethics & International Affairs draw on applied ethics and international normative theory to address moral problems in world politics. Whether the problem be well known or overlooked, long-standing or immediate, local or truly international, our authors apply moral reasoning—informed by facts and shaped by the structures of philosophical and social scientific inquiry—to deepen understanding and push toward some resolution. in this way, our approach is normative; that is, it prescribes and explains expected and required behavior in accordance with ethical systems and intuitions. Yet it is also empirical in that it places policy choices within historical and political contexts. Over the years we have witnessed an increase in the number and range of authors writing about world politics who combine normative and empirical work. However, to the extent that this increase has been a consequence of new global dilemmas and worrisome trends, we may view it less as an occasion to indulge in celebration, and rather as cause for a redoubling of rigor and creativity in the field of international ethics.

But what is this “field” of international ethics? Who, in particular, are we referring to? With its methods and problems intersecting with a range of other fields and disciplines, as well as implicating several levels of analysis—from individuals to global society—international ethics is not a field that can be clearly delimited, or even identified with a single university department (as if it were confined to universities at all). At its theoretical core, international ethics can be said to overlap with that aspect of the international relations field that engages realism and its critics, as well as with discussions of cosmopolitanism and its critics arising among moral and political philosophers.

Of course, this is a mold that will be quickly broken, even by the chapters in this volume, which have been penned also by economists and historians. However, even focusing only on the international ethical debates within and between . . .

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