Review: Global Ethics–Seminal Essays

4 Star, Consciousness & Social IQ, Education (General), Philosophy, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution
Amazon Page
Amazon Page
4.0 out of 5 stars Important Essays, Left Me Blase
October 13, 2009
Thomas Pogge and Keith Horton, Editors
The three best things I can say about this volume:

1) A heroic work that carefully selected important essays on global ethics from the past 40 years (the book itself, Australian in origin, is published for the first time in 2008).

2) Part of a Paragon Series on Philosphy that is utterly mind-boggling–if only they would make it digital and provide some visualization tools and navigation tools, they could be on to something HUGE.

3) The editors make a very substantive case to the effect that poverty is the central ethical issue of our time. This corresponds to the United Nations High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Opportunities, whose report, A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility–Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, concluded that poverty was the greatest threat to humanity, easily rising above infectious disease, environmental degradation, inter-state conflict, civil war, genocide, other atrocities, proliferation, terrorism, and crime.

Other aspects of this book that captured my attention and tie in elsewhere:

1. Poverty could be eradicated by the redirection of 0.07 of our global wealth–or better stated, by the creation of new wealth using information and communication technologies (ICT) to create a ten percent increase in global wealth of, by, and for the poor.

2. The line between intra-state and inter-state poverty is GONE. Here I want to point to two books, one on the Treaty of Westphalia as something that could be usefully overturned, the other on the achievability of Panarchy (the opposite of anarchy, all for one and one for all without conflicting loyalties). See The Health of Nations: Society and Law beyond the State and Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems.

3. I was stunned to find philosophers emphasizing design, making the point that interactive moral analytics and diagnostics are achievable and essential, and that they should logically lead to a re-design of society. This led to my acquisition of Redesigning Society (Stanford Business Books) as well as the more recent The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage.

4. Our approach to philosophy has tended to weight justice more heavily than care, something I would not have understood at all absent my prior reading of Mapping the Moral Domain: A Contribution of Women’s Thinking to Psychological Theory and Education, a book that helped me understand better the vital need to embrace and assimilate all “voices” and most especially those of the poor.

The book was somewhat disappointing in lacking a strategic analytic framework. Essays in general covered foreign aid, nationalism, global responsibility, war and human rights, self-determination, gender, population, and the environment, but I put the book down feeling it had been a struggle. It did however confirm my growing sense that we have blown it with respect to the education of our children and our politicians. Will Durant is right in Philosophy and the Social Problem: The Annotated Edition and John Taylor Gatto is right as well in Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling. There is a huge disconnect between ethics, education, intelligence, policy, and research.

I hesitate to make too much of the observation, but I have the growing feeling that the West is urgently in need of an “aha” experience that restores the primacy of ethics, especially integrity, as the enabler of all else. Put bluntly, we cannot create a prosperous world at peace without ethics permeating all that we do. Instead we have The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead, Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq, Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History That Connects the Trilateral Commission, the Freemasons, and the Great Pyramids, and a political system–not just in the USA but across Europe as well–that is Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It. Illusions have replaced ideals, see Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny, and World Wrestling Entertainment is now a farm club for politics (see the candidacy of Linda McMahon in Connecticut).

See my review at Phi Beta Iota Public Intelligence Blog to use all links and access my 1400+ related reviews in a manner that Amazon refuses to make possible.

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