The moral climates of international economic institutions and access to public goods and services in nigeria
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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The first part of this paper provides a general theory of moral climates, which incorporates the following three elements: first, the values and limitations of that picture of moral behaviour focused on rules, rule-following and rationality; second, that picture of moral behaviour focused on institutionally-embedded activity; and third, that picture of moral behaviour that urges us to come face to face with our own limitations, i.e., our own ways of orienting ourselves to objects of value, such that we do not neglect the vigilance required in order to see and recognise the great variety and depth of suffering and vulnerability. The moral climate of any particular social environment can be evaluated from the perspective of these three elements. The second part of the paper applies this general theory of moral climates to that of international economic institutions. It is argued that, despite their importance, both human rights discourse and institutional features designed to increase participation from developing countries in decision- and policy-making, are of limited use, partly because of their inherent limitations, and partly because of the emergence of international economic institutions in the context of an already heavily de-politicised and autonomous economic sphere. The necessary transformation of international economic institutions ought not to neglect the continuing domination of the orientation of those institutions towards the value of efficiency, to which all other values tend to be made subordinate. The paper proposes not only vigilance about the limitations of current and proposed normative languages and institutional features, but also urges the consideration of a Community Forum scheme, which is designed to bring to light and thereafter communicate, via the participation of international experts and artists, some of the particularities of suffering and vulnerability within specific communities. Finally, the paper illustrates the need for greater awareness of the particularities of suffering and vulnerability by considering the continuing problem of access to public goods and services amongst the poor in Nigeria.
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