global trends, values, and ethics


One World, Many Ethics

We are one humanity, but seven billion humans. This is the essential challenge of global ethics: how to accommodate the tension between our universal and particular natures. . . . We are “pushed” toward a global ethic by the need to address urgent issues that are increasingly global in nature, and we are “pulled” toward a global ethic by a universal core implicit in the very idea of ethics—a core articulated most powerfully by the idea of human rights.[58]

A great ethical debate is forming today. In “Toward a Global Ethic,” philosopher David Rodin has concisely framed our dilemma in his words above. This contrast between our universal and particular natures is not a new problem in ethics. It is, as esteemed writer, professor, and politician Michael Ignatieff has suggested, as old as philosophy itself. Philosophers and political theorists have been thinking about global ethics for centuries—we do not need to reinvent the wheel. However, the increasingly complex nature of global trends have made this question more challenging to answer than in the times of the ancient Greeks. In closing, rather than listing a generic set of policy recommendations contingent on what many directions trends might go, I will suggest ways in which we may ethically approach the world. The abstract level of analysis in this book calls for more general conclusions.

Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, implores in The Great Convergence that we need a logic of one world in order to cope with the potential and problems of the coming future.[59] The book concludes by saying that a logic of one world will need to aspire toward the formation of a global ethic. My illustration of the modal logic of possible worlds can be seen as a formal philosophical response to this call, appealing to rigorous reasoning rather than to simple platitudes of one increasingly globalized, interdependent, and interconnected world. Focusing only on the logic of a particular world among many other possible worlds’ logics is insufficient. All possible worlds should be considered in order to establish an overarching logic.

The United Nations, for example, has sketched such an ethic from a one-world logic in the run-up to the post-2015 millennium development agenda by stating, “There is a global ethic for a globalised world, based on our common humanity, the Rio principles and the shared ethos of all traditions: ‘do as you would be done by.’”[60] The global ethic presented by the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda offers five transformative trends that policymakers should steer: (1) leave no one behind, (2) put sustainable development at the core, (3) transform economies or jobs and inclusive growth, (4) build peace and effective, open, and accountable public institutions, and (5) forge a new global partnership.[61] If these five trends are implemented, one world will emerge. One that is most similar to the EU Interconnected Polycentric world, and one that is “more equal, more prosperous, more peaceful and more just than that of today . . . . A world with a new spirit of cooperation and partnership.”[62] The panel then illustrates twelve admirable goals that could follow the Millenium Development Goals: eradicate poverty, empower girls and women and achieve of gender equality, provide quality education and lifelong learning, ensure healthy lives, ensure food security and good nutrition, achieve universal access to water and sanitation, secure sustainable energy, create jobs, sustainable livelihoods, and equitable growth, manage natural resource assets sustainably, ensure good governance and effective institutions, ensure stable and peaceful societies, and create a global enabling environment and catalyzing long-term finance.[63] I believe all people would want the realization of these goals in their own lives if not for those of others.

There is a problem, however, with this logic: global trends may shape our future world in radically different ways than this one supposedly necessary world would suggest. A logic of one world needs to incorporate considerations of possibility, impossibility, and necessity. The objection is not that these goals and means are invalid within the consideration of the logic of one world in particular. Rather it is the negligence to consider how the particular logics of other worlds might realistically—or in terms of formal logic, soundly and completely—challenge not only the convergence of humanity but also the delivery of foreign assistance, gender equality, or other means. This book has shown that many other worlds are possible, each sharing the necessity of the general improvement of liberty and pluralism, but each having their own specific schemata for all four values. We should not simply work toward one particular world with one global ethic, but rather toward the best possible world, featuring all of our values and considering many global ethics.

The logical system given to us by possible worlds semantics can assist us in conceptualizing what ethics we should consider. Regard Table B, which establishes for all of our ten worlds whether our four values will exist for all people regardless of the state they live in. Although some may debate whether some of these evaluations are true or false considering the complexity of dynamics within each world, more sweeping observations stand out: pluralism is true in all possible worlds, and liberty, though existent in most worlds is not fully enjoyed by all people—particularly in the developing world. According to our definition pluralism is the only value that is necessary for all people, while the attainment of the other three values is contingent at best. Thus this specific necessity should inform us most of what type of ethics one might consider.

Fortunately, Michael Doyle has clearly laid out today’s leading global ethical theories by illustrating three types of possible worlds: (1) one world, one people, (2) one world, two peoples, and (3) one world, many peoples.[64] Although Doyle develops this map to frame debates over global justice by cosmopolitans, neo-Kantian liberals, and Rawls in The Law of Peoples, his illustration is robust enough to also explain different permutations of global pluralism, peace, and liberty in the future.


Doyle first illustrates the one world, one people ethic advocated by cosmopolitan philosophers. In 1975 in response to Rawls’ Theory of Justice, which focused primarily on domestic considerations of distributive justice, political theorist Charles Beitz argued for a cosmopolitan global theory of justice. This theory held that self-contained nation-state distinctions imposed by Rawls and natural resource distributions across the world are, from a moral point of view, arbitrarily determined.[65] Consequently, under a social contractarian view, citizens of relatively affluent countries have obligations founded on justice to share their wealth with poorer people elsewhere. And although Rawls would later apply his own theory to the international level in The Law of Peoples, philosopher Thomas Pogge would continue to argue along with Beitz that arbitrary nation-state boundaries and natural resource distributions, the illusion of state self-sufficiency, and necessarily interdependent relations among societies would call for the treatment of all individuals as members of one people. [66]

Philosopher Peter Singer also appealed to the cosmopolitan premise of one world, one people, but from a utilitarian perspective.[67] In 1972, Singer famously illustrated an analogy of saving a child drowning in a shallow pool. Anyone would naturally save the child if they could because the costs of sullying one’s pants would be negligible compared to the benefit of saving a life. In a similar manner, it should be a moral duty for people to feed starving people oceans away because it would maximize the good that could be done at little cost. From a utilitarian perspective, distributive justice should be maximized depending on values that are common to all of humanity regardless of state borders, distance, class, what other individuals do (or do not do), regardless of whether an individual is rich or poor or if greater powers stand idly by. In 2002, Singer continued to develop a global ethic beyond distributive justice by focusing on globalization and increasing interdependence among one people beyond borders, arguing that “Our newly interdependent global society, with its remarkable possibilities for linking people around the planet, gives us the material basis for a new ethic.”[68] Singer holds that a society’s ethic is a reflection of the economic structure to which its technology has given rise, and the revolution in communications has further created a global audience. Increasing interdependence, connectivity, and technological innovations have thus united the world’s people as one in unprecedented ways:

When different nations led more separate lives, it was more understandable—though still quite wrong—for those in one country to think of themselves as owing no obligations, beyond that of noninterference, to people in another state. But those times are long gone. Today, as we have seen, our greenhouse gas emissions alter the climate under which everyone in the world lives. Our purchases of oil, diamonds, and timber make it possible for dictators to buy more weapons and strengthen their hold on the countries they tyrannize. Instant communications show us how others live, and they in turn learn about us and aspire to our way of life. Modern transport can move even relatively poor people thousands of kilometers, and when people are desperate to improve their situation, national boundaries prove permeable.[69]

For our purposes, both cosmopolitan views may apply generally to Walzer’s International Civil Society, Decentered, and Unified Global State worlds. Since I have established the latter type to be impossible in the near term, instantiations of only the first two types of worlds are possible: the US’s Nonstate and Fusion worlds and the EU’s Polycentric Interconnected world. Thus, advances in technologies from information to automation, manufacturing, resource utilization, and health will not only make individuals more liberated, they will also make us more interconnected and interdependent by transcending state boundaries and revealing to individuals across oceans that they are members of one people. Governance can take on three forms based on the three possible world instantiations, viewing the world’s actors in terms of individuality, multipolarity, or polycentrism. In the Nonstate World, governments would no longer be needed, and individuals through global civil society networks would perfectly coordinate among themselves. In the Fusion World, states would still be the primary actors, but they would support subnational, regional, and global solutions to optimize our four values. The Interconnected Polycentric World would be the most encompassing, allowing civil societies, states, regional organizations, and global institutions to help foster the best possible world.

However, these instantiations may be difficult to achieve due to a lack of will and coordination. While the appeal of this one world, one people perspective may flourish in the minds of men and women in civil society and the academy, it has not manifested itself in capitals today. A global ethic as a politics has failed to take form in policy or practice. Why should we expect such coordination to be so well aligned in the future? If this logic is truly universal and if these cosmopolitan values are truly necessary and transcend time, why do we all not enjoy them now?

I do not think that it is because the logic of universal values is philosophically invalid, but rather it is because local concerns, idiosyncratic interests, and particular politics intervene for both selfish and rational reasons, at times rendering this one world, one people logic unsound and incomplete.[70] Thomas Hobbes has often been criticized as having a dark view on human nature, characterizing life as solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. His critics often forget, however, that he started his thesis from premises identical to those of the cosmopolitans: all men and women are equal and rational.[71] In contradistinction from the cosmopolitans, though, Hobbes arrives at the conclusion that conflict is inevitable. This is because men and women must cope with natural dispositions toward competition, diffidence, and glory.[72] Competition makes us fight over scarce resources, diffidence makes us seek our own security, and glory makes us seek reputation. Thus, for some the problem with the cosmopolitan view is that it is not realistic enough. It can neither explain nor respond to the possible emergences of NATO’s or Russia’s predicted worlds, which do not view all humanity as one and instead recognize state boundaries as determinative of which peoples will be privileged to enjoy the four values unequally. Further, cosmopolitans cannot explain or respond to the US’s Gini-Out-of-the-Bottle and Stalled Engines worlds, which leave different peoples with variegated values. There are and will be more than one people in the world whose interests can conflict with one another even if cosmopolitan values may be the aspiration of all people. In this sense, all history is the story of the struggle between us against them. The great challenge for this global ethic is to make all peoples of the world see themselves as one while at the same time recognizing that some natural dispositions may drive us apart.

Given such a problem, Michael Ignatieff has asked, whether we should talk about one global ethic or multiple global ethics.[73] These contractarian and utilitarian views may be categorized as a global ethic in the singular. Morality, in this one ethic, extends with equal concern “to defend all human beings and our common habitat against partialities and interests grounded in family, community, ethnicity, economic position, and nation.”[74] Following Thomas Nagel, Ignatieff argues that this perspective starts with a “view from nowhere.”[75] For both contractarians and utilitarians—though through different philosophies—this view asks how rational and equal people might form policies without consideration of arbitrary and accidental factors such as state boundaries, place of birth, class, or gender.

For Ignatieff, global ethics in the plural, on the other hand, refers to universal principles such as sovereignty, individual rights, civilian immunity in war, and rights of refugees and displaced persons. These particular values are legally embodied in existing international law in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, and the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. They are political documents negotiated among states to solve specific problems, thus they may not be in full accord with a singular global ethic, and they may at times conflict with one another. A reimagined global ethic “defends the universal interests of mankind and the planet; its purpose is to engage all forms of ethical particularism in adversarial justification; and the rules of these encounters, flowing as they do from the starting premise of human equality, preclude coercion and mandate tolerance.”[76] It investigates particularism at the nation-state and community levels as well as universalism of international law.

While I might consider a definition of global ethics to encompass more than solely those embodied by international legal texts,[77] Ignatieff’s juxtaposition of a global ethic versus multiple global ethics opens up a consideration of one world composed of more than one people, each compromising and competing with one another over multiple ethics. In the following sections, I will illustrate the different global ethics of one world, two peoples and one world, many peoples.


Michael Doyle, through his formulation of the democratic peace thesis, can be associated with a one world, two peoples ethic. The distinction between a global ethic and multiple ethics can be explained by a fundamental problem: “the absence of a genuine sense of global community, the sense that we are in a common social project.”[78] Whereas the cosmopolitan contractarians and utilitarians viewed the world as composed of one people, neo-Kantian liberals hold that the world is pluralistic and composed of two types of peoples: democratic and non-democratic. The global ethics of neo-Kantian liberalism focuses more broadly on the values of liberty, peace, and pluralism rather than primarily on global justice. According to the democratic peace thesis, there can be three global ethics between two peoples: (1) a global ethic among liberal republics, (2) a global ethic among non-democratic states, and (3) a global ethic between democratic and non-democratic states. These ethics, respectively, focus on peace among liberal democratic states, among non-democratic states, and between democratic and non-democratic states. The thesis holds that democratic peoples do not go to war against each other for three reasons:[79]

  1. Liberal peoples must elect and internalize the costs of going to war whereas monarchs and dictators do not.
  2. Since liberal peoples share the same principles, they will respect the rights of similarly free peoples.
  3. Respect for property rights and the benefits of commercial exchange reinforce these moral commitments.

The one world, two peoples ethic might be considered more realistic than the one people ethic. In comparison to the cosmopolitan one world, one people ethic, the democratic peace thesis can better explain and respond to all of the future possible worlds. This variation of values can be seen to exist most strikingly in the divided worlds of the US’s Gini Out-of-the-Bottle and Stalled Engines worlds as well as NATO’s Darkside of Exclusivity and Deceptive Stability worlds, however, it can also arise in NATO’s Clash of Modernities and New Powers worlds as well as the US Fusion and EU Interconnected Polycentric worlds. Thus, the democratic peace view of the world tolerates a greater variance of our values compared to the cosmopolitans. In all of these worlds, the values of liberty and peace are taken as first- and second-order conditions respectively. This is in contradistinction to the cosmopolitans who took liberty and distributive justice as primary and secondary considerations, respectively. For the neo-Kantians, liberty and peace are prior to considerations of distributive justice. Implicitly, the neo-Kantians do not accept the premise that all peoples are the same and they acknowledge that the liberties of these peoples may conflict. Neo-Kantians would never agree to a one world, one people global ethic where illiberal peoples may limit the maximum liberties of democratic peoples.

Thus, a prioritization of liberty and the acknowledgement of different peoples will continue to lead to the emergence of a separate peace for liberal democratic peoples versus non-democratic ones. Further, two other global ethics emerge for liberal democracies: (1) nothing prevents democratized peoples from going to war with non-democratized ones, and (2) the lack of shared values does not prevent non-democratized peoples from going to war with one another. Other than peace, liberal values of liberty, justice, and pluralism in varying contingent degrees will necessarily exist within and among the societies of democratic peoples. This holds despite the fact that liberal democracies can fall within a range of forms from laissez-faire to social democratic.

Prioritizing liberty, peace, and pluralism through the market economy may help explain a greater tolerance for a wider variance in the degree of distributive justice. Thus, globalization and global trends may also pose challenges for the liberal peace not only among democracies, but also between democracies and non-democracies.[80] In “A More Perfect Union? The Challenge of Globalization,” globalization is shown to pose three challenges to the democratic peace in terms of commodification, inequality, and security. Doyle draws upon Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation, which describes how the market economy and interdependence can make liberal peace unsustainable. While Singer believed that such interdependence necessarily called for a greater peace and neo-Kantian liberals believe that markets would help liberalize non-liberal societies and spread a greater peace, Polanyi argued that unchecked interdependence can have more inimical effects on domestic and international societies. This is because trade is not merely the exchange of commodities, but rather trade changes the factors of production, i.e., the value of land, labor, and capital. Consequently, trade disrupts social relations in communities, village life, regional life, classes, industries, and sectors. Commodification by liberal markets can prevent democratic citizens from choosing to live by their own values. Competition and arbitrary natural resource allocation has led to what some might consider an unjust distribution of wealth to a degree where the worst off are not better off that they could be. Such inequality fundamentally challenges liberal principles of equality and respect. Finally, the global market economy has made non-democratic China into a growing power that might one day challenge the peace of a liberal order. Thus, globalization between two peoples may endanger liberty, justice, and peace for liberal republics.

In general, the great ethical challenge for the one world, two peoples ethic is for liberal republics to prevent war with non-democratic states. As framed, however, there is little reason to believe that global trends will necessarily lead to the expansion of liberal respect to non-democratic peoples. The ethic may tend toward archetypical worlds where distributive justice is lacking, such as the Deceptive Stability and or Clash of Modernities instantiations. This is not to say that the democratic peace is lacking in means or motives to help those in some non-democratic states. Liberal peoples’ principles that focus on representative respect, human rights, and economic growth will drive individuals and some organizations in perhaps a Fusion or Interconnected Polycentric world to offer some foreign assistance to the poorest peoples through nonpolitical agencies such as developmental organizations. However, liberal democratic states will not systematically in all cases give aid as a matter of duty. Thus, while this ethic may help explain how the four archetypical worlds might arise, it is less clear how we might arrive at the best possible world among them.


In The Law of Peoples, Rawls offers a possible partial solution to this challenge by raising the question of whether one world has many peoples rather than just one or two. While Beitz and Pogge sought to extend Rawls’s domestic theory of justice globally, and Singer sought to maximize utility for all people across borders, and Doyle started with the democratic piece thesis, Rawls began from a different starting point. For Rawls a singular global ethic is one that might bind a society of many peoples under a realistic utopia starting with eight principles:[81]

  1. Peoples are free and independent, and their freedom and independence are to be respected by other peoples.
  2. Peoples are to observe treaties and undertakings.
  3. Peoples are equal and are parties to the agreements that bind them.
  4. Peoples are to observe a duty of non-intervention.
  5. Peoples have the right of self-defense but no right to instigate war for reasons other than self-defense.
  6. Peoples are to honor human rights.
  7. Peoples are to observe certain specified restrictions in the conduct of war.
  8. Peoples have a duty to assist other peoples living under unfavorable conditions that prevent their having a just or decent political and social regime.

While Rawls acknowledged that there are both democratic and non-democratic peoples, he also held that there are other peoples between this dichotomy. From the basis of this global ethic and the range of peoples’ acceptance of all, some, or none of these eight principles, there are also decent hierarchical peoples, burdened peoples, and outlaw peoples (defined below). Among these peoples there are multiple global ethics, which overlap but extend upon the three global ethics of the neo-Kantians:

  1. A global ethic among well-ordered peoples
    • A global ethic among liberal republics
    • A global ethic between liberal republics and decent hierarchical peoples
    • A global ethic among decent hierarchical peoples
  2. A global ethic between well-ordered peoples and non-ordered peoples
    • A global ethic between well-ordered peoples and burdened peoples
    • A global ethic between well-ordered peoples and outlaw societies
  3. A global ethic among outlaw societies

A global ethic among liberal republics takes the form similar to that of a democratic peace. In contradistinction with the neo-Kantians who thought that peace emerged from representative government, shared values, and market economies, the Rawlsian democratic peace takes hold because liberal people honor all eight of the principles. Rawls categorizes another set of peoples: decent hierarchical peoples. These are peoples that uphold many of the eight principles, but not all of them. While Rawls might criticize the neo-Kantians for too simplistically categorizing these peoples as non-democratic peoples, Rawls held that liberal peoples should tolerate certain hierarchical peoples because they are not aggressive and value some of the liberal eight values such as human rights. This tolerance means that liberal republics should not intervene with—or even criticize—the affairs of decent hierarchical peoples. Thus, the great challenge for neo-Kantians is mitigated for Rawls by a greater tolerance for some non-democratic, though still decent hierarchical peoples.

While Rawls suggests that an ethic toward decent hierarchical peoples can help us move toward a better world, there may be some limits to application. For example, Doyle has suggested that the number of such states is few and their population sizes are small. These states include Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, and to some degree Qatar, Bhutan, the United Arab Emirates, and perhaps Jordan.[82] Thus, Rawls’s distinctions may have marginal practical impact. Further, in contrast to the neo-Kantian thesis, this peace holds whether or not liberal peoples can internalize the costs of war or whether or not a global market economy takes hold. In essence, however, this tolerance is tenuous. Liberals cannot be sure to extend the respect that they have for one another because hierarchical peoples do not respect their own people through democratic accountability. As Doyle asks, “If those governments will not trust their own publics, why should we trust them?”[83]

While the global ethic among hierarchical peoples will range depending on which of the eight principles they hold, there is a clearer ethic between well-ordered peoples and another set of peoples. Rawls also introduces the category of burdened societies, peoples who are not aggressive and lack political institutions, material resources, and human capital. These are peoples who would choose to be well ordered, but cannot due to circumstances beyond their control. Well-ordered peoples (particularly liberal ones), have a duty to assist these societies in becoming self-determining, well-ordered peoples. However, distributive justice extends only so far as to raise these peoples to a decent hierarchical order. This raises questions of how much inequality we are willing to tolerate.

Further, Rawls introduces another set of peoples: outlaw societies. A global ethic among outlaw societies is unintelligible under Rawls’s scheme, because these are peoples who do not respect any or most of the eight principles. Hence, it is questionable whether an ethic among outlaws is possible, although, they may base relations with other states on other considerations (e.g., realpolitik).

Finally, according to a global ethic among well-ordered and outlaw peoples, liberal peoples owe neither respect nor tolerance for these peoples because they do not respect these eight principles. Intervention, in varying degrees, by well-ordered peoples is justified because outlaw societies either do not respect human rights at a minimum or threaten their own people with genocidal policies at the extreme. In accordance with the principles, these wars should recognize noncombatant immunity and not revert to the indiscriminate nature of wars in the past. Such wars must be prudent in the sense that the purpose of intervention should be to bring outlaw societies into a global well-ordered society of peoples.


I do not want to leave the reader thinking that one of these ethics will always be the most suitable for our future planning. We will continue to live in a world with imperfect choices, and these three global ethics will not be sufficient in themselves to solve all future dilemmas. However, they offer us reasonable ways to respond to the particular opportunities and challenges posed by future global trends, which will ultimately lead us to one world.

The cosmopolitan view can motivate and guide us toward a few of the most desirable of possible worlds, which may optimize our four values more than other approaches. The neo-Kantian view offers us a realism that explains why all of the possible worlds might exist, and it provides rationales that will help us cope with future conflicts among peoples. And finally, the Law of Peoples view gives us a more complex rational basis to extend peace, justice, and liberty to more peoples, giving us a chance to tend toward the most promising decentered worlds. The principles of the cosmopolitans, the prudence of the neo-Kantians, and the pragmatism of Rawls can all help us work toward the best of all possible worlds.

Trends may bend in many directions. Some future worlds may be freer than others. Some less just. Others possibly more peaceful, and still others more diverse. The ethical choice for individuals, communities, organizations, and states will be to determine what degree of each we can achieve not only in the next fifteen years, but also, as we have in the past, for the longer future of humanity to come.

[58] David Rodin, “Toward a Global Ethic,” Ethics and International Affairs 26, No. 1 (Spring 2012): 33–42., pp. 33–34. While at Carnegie Council, I had the privilege of playing a role in editing this journal’s volume.

[59] Mahbubani, The Great Convergence.

[60] High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, “A New Global Partnership,” p. 6.

[61] The panel dutifully mitigated its biases in forming this world by talking to 5000 civil society organizations, 250 CEOs of businesses, as well as individuals from all walks of life, including farmers, indigenous peoples, workers in the informal sector, migrants, the disabled, young and older people, women’s groups, faith-based groups, trade unions, academics, experts from governments, and multilateral organizations, politicians, and philosophers.

[62] Ibid., p. 18.

[63] Ibid., pp. 30–31.

[64] Michael W. Doyle, “One World, Many Peoples: International Justice in John Rawls’s ‘The Law of Peoples,’” Perspectives on Politics 4, No. 1 (March 2006): 109–120.

[65] Charles R. Beitz, “Justice and International Relations,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 4, No. 4 (Summer 1975): 360–389.

[66] Thomas W. Pogge, “An Egalitarian Law of Peoples,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 23, No. 3 (Summer, 1994): 195–224.

[67] Peter Singer, “Famine, Affluence, and Morality,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 1, No. 3 (Spring 1972): 229–243.

[68] Peter Singer, One World: The Ethics of Globalization (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002), p. 11.

[69] Ibid., pp. 196–197.

[70] For readers with a background in formal modal logic, this challenge is of validating the argument that if some proposition about a value is necessary, then that proposition has to be the case now (□ A → A). Hence, the problem is of a logical system that is unsound and incomplete.

[71] Thomas Hobbes, “Of the Natural Condition of Mankind as Concerning Their Felicity and Misery,” in Leviathan.

[72] For a modern account of such predispositions rooted in neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy, see Joshua Greene, Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them (New York: Penguin Press 2013).

[73] Michael Ignatieff, “Reimagining a Global Ethic,” Ethics and International Affairs 26, No. 1 (Spring 2012): 7–19.

[74] Ibid., p. 13.

[75] Thomas Nagel, The View from Nowhere (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).

[76] Ignatieff, “Reimagining a Global Ethic,” p. 16.

[77] Foreign policy decisions can be made more by ethical considerations than by laws that are supposed to embody them. For example, the 1999 NATO bombing in Kosovo received no UN authorization in the Security Council. However, the Independent International Commission on Kosovo considered the bombing an “illegal but legitimate” use of force. Thus, laws can be seen at times as insufficient, and a consideration of ethics helps us to understand their limits and contradictions. Ignatieff and the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, in thinking about the tough choices to intervene during times of massacre, genocide, or ethnic cleansing, focused on the challenge of prioritizing state sovereignty through the UN Charter versus the prioritization of human rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was ethical consideration and not solely the laws themselves that helped find a compromise between these two values and to develop the norm of sovereignty as a responsibility to protect and provide basic security for a state’s own citizens.

[78] Doyle, “One World, Many Peoples,” p. 112.

[79] Michael W. Doyle, Ways of War and Peace (New York: W.W. Norton, 1997).

[80] Michael W. Doyle, “A More Perfect Union? The Liberal Peace and the Challenge of Globalization,” Review of International Studies 26 (2000): 81–94.

[81] Rawls, The Law of Peoples.

[82] Doyle, “One World, Many Peoples,” pp. 116–117.

[83] Ibid., p. 114.

Copyright © 2014 by Thong Nguyen

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Of All Possible Future Worlds: Global Trends, Values, and Ethics by Thong Nguyen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.