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Too Early for Global Ethics - Policy-Making and the Ethics Gap

In the 20th century, ethics moved out of ivory towers through ethics committees, parliamentary advice and popular interest.

To set global ethics apart from ethics as an additional academic exercise is not meaningful. Global ethics should rather be seen as an activity: the attempt to agree on fundamental conditions for human flourishing and to secure them for all. Needless to say that this is an ambitious task; a task that cannot be achieved by one generation. The main challenges for global ethics are: global inequities of an extent impossible to remedy, vast cultural differences in moral perspectives, complex relationships between social, economic and cultural determinants of moral perspectives, lack of global decision-making power with enforcement authority, and – relatedly - no enforceable international agreements with an ethics focus.

Steps towards achieving the goal of global ethics are increased activity in the areas of conflict resolution and trust building, particularly international networking of existing initiatives; increased intercultural dialogue, strengthening of democratic processes at the international level and adding ethics as an additional factor to already on-going global discussions, for instance , about science and technology policy, trade and the environment, with a view to inform enforceable international agreements by ethical considerations.

At this stage, it is far too early to talk about global ethics adequately. The discussions will come naturally to a critical point as a result of more immediate concerns. The first step for the foreseeable future is to include ethics in other discussions, for instance, as an ethical review of major international agreements. Health care ethics, environmental ethics and science and technology ethics are good candidates for development at present.


Dr Doris Schroeder | talks | www


Date and Time:

21 February 2005 at 5:30 pm


2 hours



Centre for the Study of Global Ethics
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT
0121 414 8447

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