One World : The Ethics of Globalization, Paperback

One World : The Ethics of Globalization Paperback

Part of the The Terry Lectures series

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Known for his original and courageous thinking on matters ranging from the treatment of animals to genetic screening, Peter Singer now turns his attention to the ethical issues surrounding globalisation.

In this provocative book, he challenges us to think beyond the boundaries of nation-states and consider what a global ethic could mean in today's world.

Singer raises novel questions about such an ethic and, more important, he provides illuminating and practical answers.

The book encompasses four main global issues: climate change, the role of the World Trade Organization, human rights and humanitarian intervention, and foreign aid.

Singer addresses each vital issue from an ethical perspective and offers alternatives to the state-centric approach that characterises international theory and relations today.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Ethics & moral philosophy
  • ISBN: 9780300103052



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It seems super important to always consider the impact of what I'm doing on others. One of the things I'm becoming way too acutely aware of is that I can't just look at the people directly within my circle of influence but rather have to take a huge step back and think of global repercussions. We're constantly making industries viable or not by our purchasing decisions; every time we discard something we're potentially contaminating someone's drinking water; by being unaware of global happenings, we're possibly tacitly agreeing to our governments' international bullying... it's scary, really.The structure of this book makes a ton and a half of sense to me. There are four chapters: one atmosphere, one economy, one law, one community and those four areas pose important and sadly, sometimes conflicting ethical concerns. My favorite thing about the whole thing is that Singer doesn't hold back criticism of U.S. policy when it comes to all aspects of globalization. At the same time, he provides very clear, actionable ways for the country to become a much better world citizen.I'm a big proponent of encouraging local programs that provide services to those who most need them. This is one thing Yaw and I disagree on and interestingly, he tends to bring up similar arguments as Singer does to argue that allocating resources to those in greatest absolute need (as in the Seattle homeless youths are still way better off than the Sierra Leone refugee who has AIDS, five kids with malaria and whose leg got blown off by a land mine) is most important even if those people are tens of thousands of miles away. I follow the arguments and they definitely reach me in a number of ways, but I still stand by my approach: if I'm donating money I'll target programs that reach those in greatest absolute need, but I still place greater value in providing time and in-kind donations locally (and who knows, "locally" could become a village in Sierra Leone at some point). Maybe I'm selfish, but I feel I need some kind of fulfillment in return for sharing resources, and seeing someone benefit from my contribution is much more gratifying than reading a report stating that tuberculosis is killing N% fewer people a month this year as compared to last. Also, I'm living here. If I can better the community here by helping people get better education, by helping provide services for the homeless, whatever, I directly benefit because the people I interact with on a daily basis are on average more educated, less prone to violence, etc. Finally, it may be a naive delusion, but I believe there is some sort of ripple effect. If we all work to better our local communities there's a momentum that builds up and reaches out to neighboring communities and neighboring countries and so on."The thesis of this book is that how well we come through the era of globalization (perhaps whether we come through it at all) will depend on how we respond ethically to the idea that we live in one world. For the rich nations not to take a global ethical viewpoint has long been seriously morally wrong. Now it is also, in the long term, a danger to their security.""Today the overwhelming majority of nations in the world are united in the view that greenhouse gas emissions should be significantly reduced, and all the major industrial nations but one have committed themselves to doing something about this.""As the protests at meetings of the WTO, the World Bank and other international bodies continue -- from Seattle to Washington D.C., Prague, Melbourne, Quebec City, Gothenburg, Genoa, and New York -- genuine open-minded exploration of the crucial and difficult issues arising from globalization is losing out to partisan polemics, long in rhetoric and thin in substance, with each side speaking only to its own supporters who already know who the saints and sinners are. Endlessly repeated rituals of street theater do not provide opportunities for the kind of discussion that is needed.""If nations, once they join the WTO, can lose significant national sovereignty in important areas, and if they are under constant pressure to remain in the WTO, the view that the WTO is no threat to national sovereignty is simplistic.""We should reject moral relativism. A much better case against cultural imperialism can be made from the standpoint of a view of ethics that allows for the possibility of moral argument beyond the boundaries of one's own culture.""When subjected to the test of impartial assessment, there are few strong grounds for giving preference to the interests of one's fellow citizens, and none that can override the obligation that arises whenever we can, at little cost to ourselves, make an absolutely crucial difference to the well-being of another person in real need.""... in recent years the international effort to build a global community has been hampered by the repeated failure of the United States to play its part."

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