The shape of a global ethic

Philosophy and Social Criticism 32 (1):5-19 (2006)
Abstract
A global ethic needs to be cosmopolitan in a sense which is explained; this excludes certain kinds of communitarian ethic. Contracttheories, Kantianism, basic-rights theories, Ross-type deontology and theories of virtue ethics are reviewed and found to encounter severe problems. Consequentialist theories, however, are found capable of coping with Williams’ objections, and practice-consequentialist theories capable of coping with right-making practices and with Lenman's unpredictability objection. Variants that exclude from consideration unintended consequences, the results of omissions, or impacts on possible people, or which prioritize average over total outcomes, fail to improve on the Total View, which is argued to overcome objections based on population numbers and on good procedures, but which needs to be biocentric in scope. Theories of this kind are capable of coping with global problems, while also favouring alliances between global citizens of diverse normative outlooks. Key Words: alienation • biocentric consequentialism • cosmopolitanism • global citizens • global ethic • global problems • overpopulation • practice-consequentialism • Total View • unpredictability.
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