Development, ethics, and the ethics of development

World Futures 61 (4):307 – 316 (2005)
Abstract
This article investigates three things: (1) what development might be, (2) how development and ethics might be related, and (3) what an ethics of development might look like. First, I show how if we move away from an essentialist metaphysics of being to a possibilist-functionalist metaphysics of becoming in our understanding of development, we can reconceptualize ethics as self-directed ontogeny. Thus, ethics turns out to be a part of development. Secondly, I sketch out the possibility of an ethics of development, showing how it should be based on three desiderata: (1) sustainability, promoting the long-term existence of the maximum human and non-human biodiversity, (2) democracy, promoting human-human relationships that are bidirectional and, to the extent possible, non-imposing, and (3) non-ethnocentrism, promoting true modernity; a modernity not predicated on a non-existent abstract universality but on concrete syncretism. The ultimate aim of this ethics of development is the optimization of individual and collective subjectivity and agency across time.
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