Importantly, he does not speculate as to its ethical content, as this would require assuming a metaethical position or a grounding in a universal morality. By initiating a conversation between a morally-serious prudential realism and a policy-minded cosmopolitan, debate in international ethics can move past the false binary of cold realism contra crusading idealism presented in introductory international relations textbooks.
The most basic of these is that morality, if it is to have any meaning at all, requires the willingness to sacrifice self-interest:. One pair of views denies the possibility of morality altogether, while the other pair advances a substantive moral principle. However, in both cases, the distinction is without a difference. What is distinctively moral about a system of rules is the possibility that the rules might require people to act in ways that do not promote their individual self-interest…To assert that ethics is possible is to say that there are occasions when we have reason to override the demands of self-interest by taking a moral point of view towards human affairs.
It was Hobbes who originally argued for their congruence, with one crucial difference: whereas contractarianism legally manages collisions of interest, the permanence of international anarchy renders international law effete and international society impossible.
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This inference is scientifically faulty but nonetheless has psychologically significant effects. Like Beitz, Jackson highlights the artificiality of the separation between international and political theory as reflecting the artificiality of the separation of the state and state system, the disanalogy between states and persons, and the differences between their respective states of nature.
This too is an expression of values. Contra Malthusian mythologizing, if each nation was to share these values and establish an acceptable level of economic rights, it is conceivable that that equilibrium called peace could obtain. However, it is not clear that the rubrics of prudence and equality are inherently democratic; a majority of the population might be more convinced by capitalist values of constant growth and expansion and willing to accept the inequalities that arise from it both domestically and internationally.
Even with similar conceptions of the good life, this myth sustains the illusion that international relations are inevitably competitive and zero sum. The classical assumption of the state as a perfect association is predicated on the portrayal of international relations as a state of nature. Despite its Westphalian pedigree, this view is hardly antique. Explicit in classical and neo realism, it is implicit for communitarians who espouse some moderate or prudential realism. Beitz sets about deconstructing this structural precondition by separating its predictive aspects the inevitability of conflict from its prescriptive aspects rational self-interest as the guiding principle of diplomacy.
Taken together, the existence of increasingly powerful non-state actors and the unequal distribution of resources and military power on the one hand, and the fact of economic interdependence coupled with the existence of an international community capable of imposing sanctions on the other, obviate all four of these conditions. Further, it indicates that international society already forms a cooperative to which the demands of justice apply.
The domestic analogy hinges on a second condition: the existence and extent of a national right to self-preservation. The core communitarian position is this: that insofar as individual identity is parasitic on group membership, the recognition and preservation of that group and its culture is functionally identical to individual preservation and therefore accrues the same rights in its defense.
Despite the less-than-savory technocratic features of the administrative state alluded to earlier, it is potentially rational in an importantly different sense than simple efficiency: legislation ideally represents the outcome of deliberation. Though Walzer notes that citizens have no right to have just anything done in their name, he does not go as far as to state positively that states lack the right to define the greater good as each state acting in its own national interest. It is the rights and interests of persons that are of fundamental importance from the moral point of view, and it is to these considerations that the justification of principles for international relations should appeal.
The problem comes not so much in the definition of to whom this consideration is owed as much as how to adequately take so many, often competing, interests into account in the choices of citizens, consumers, and states. The substantive liberal principle of egalitarian individualism is a foregone conclusion in any internationalist scheme, including that of the English school. The puzzle lies in lending to international society something approximating the accountability and legitimacy characteristic of its members. Rejecting the Hobbesean international state of nature on these grounds dispenses with international moral skepticism but it might be the case, Beitz hedges, that self or group preservation provides the most compelling substantial norm for state morality, as realists and communitarians argue.
However, he contests self-interest as a moral principle on two grounds: First, individual self-interest proves insufficient for political obligation insofar as it disincentivizes cooperation, as the free-rider problem illustrates. To say one has reason in some circumstances to lay aside self-interest and adopt a moral point of view to facilitate cooperation is to controvert general moral skepticism.
This is accomplished in rule utilitarianism, which is consonant with the former foreign policy outlooks.
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The second, more fundamental objection to the primacy of interests in the contractarian and utilitarian ethical traditions comes from moral philosophy. We look at an extreme case of the latter first. The humanistic utilitarianism, propounded by Peter Singer, for example, requires each to think of the global implications of every action.
In an era of increasing environmental awareness, when actions that are indirectly interpersonal, such as consumer choices or waste management, are imbued with moral import, this ethic seems hard to argue with. Obliging action in accordance with the greater good would eliminate the moral category of the supererogatory, or going beyond what is obligatory, which real sacrifice seems to demand.
Humanistic utilitarianism also ignores the role prestige or honor plays in the alchemy moral motivation. Although Beitz calls his debunking of Hobbes a reconstruction of the natural law tradition, an eastern analog exists in the Confucian ethics propounded by Mencius that is free from Christian ambivalence toward humanism. Anthony Appiah has argued that an attempt to apply the principle universally reveals flawed assumptions. Despite the laudable intention, if universalized, the principle would do grave injustice to the individual by stripping them of authentic moral choice, and therefore, of the possibility of moral action.
This is true self-abdegnation. Coerced sympathy is, at best, an equivocation, likely worse insofar as it disregards the still-valuable liberal division of public and private. Taking these two points together, the morality of states might be understood as the international analogue of twentieth-century liberalism. It joins a belief in the liberty of individual agents with an indifference to the distributive outcomes of their economic interaction.
Procedural democracy theoretically militates against domestic inequality by giving the poorer majority a voice.
This can be deemed progressive only insofar as the gap between the most and least powerful becomes progressively smaller. In juggling the demands of freedom and equality, liberal capitalism tends to tilt toward the callous libertarian insularity that characterizes a hypertrophy of freedom at the expense of equality. At its worst, this manifests itself in Social Darwinism, evident domestically in Gilded Age excesses and internationally in the 19 th century foreign policy criticized so cogently by men such as historian E.
Carr and economist Karl Polanyi.
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He is careful to add that efforts to improve the quality of the life that one is saving, through opportunities afforded by infrastructural development, are equally vital. This is far from an endorsement of the Washington consensus; though Appiah ventures that most cosmopolitans, including himself, agree that the nation-state is still the primary mechanism for ensuring these entitlements, his focus is on improving governance, democratic institutions and policy, not just opening markets or lowering trade barriers.
However, the syntax of social change through individual change presents its own difficulty: How to achieve this threshold amount of compassion, given the collective action problems familiar to any political scientist? Of course, the obstacle is not simply a political system predicated on interest but its seeming inextricability from an economic system that is definitionally self-interested. Thus, the question must be examined in conjunction with the theoretical justifications and historical development of capitalism.
Contra Wight, the problem might not be the asymmetry between political and international theory but the continuity of conservatism from the former to the latter—from capitalism to global capitalism. The empirical differences between the domestic and international environments Beitz uncovers in contrasting the two states of nature translate the political virtues of communitarian care or liberal tolerance to the international sphere less easily than the translation of self to national interest in micro to macro economics.
Given this asymmetry, is it possible to reconcile the moral point of view with the entrenchment of particular cultural-historical identities and economic institutions, at least mitigating the influence they wield in shaping perspectives on world politics? The expansion of liberal values onto the canvas of transnational institutionalism has been less than convincing because of the naturalistic fallacy—that its origin in and continued abuse by the West negates its value as a truly universal axiom.
Anticipating Rawls, Beitz, in the second part of Political Theory and International Relations derives the right of state autonomy from more basic principles of justice. Wight was right to say that in its practice as international law, international theory has addressed itself to states as if their autonomy is basic and that their liberty is an analog for individual liberty. However, as has been demonstrated, the moral force of state autonomy exists as an extension of individual autonomy and only insofar as it guarantees it equally for all citizens and does nothing to abridge it elsewhere.
This should make international law an extension of social justice; in practice, beneficiaries of and believers in two discrete worlds have jointly been successful defending the status quo despite its disadvantageousness to the latter. So, in response to the three central questions above: moral universalism is either false, or merely says that nothing is forbidden to any state in pursuit of its interests.
There is no obligation to help the poor, unless doing so helps to further a state's strategic aims. And the state system is taken as the fundamental and unchallengeable global institutional arrangement. Particularists, such as Michael Walzer and James Tully , argue that ethical standards arise out of shared meanings and practices, which are created and sustained by discrete cultures or societies.
Moral and social criticism is possible within the boundaries of such groups, but not across them. If a society is egalitarian , for instance, its citizens can be morally wrong, and can meaningfully criticise each other, if they do not live up to their own egalitarian ideals; but they cannot meaningfully criticise another, caste -based society in the name of those ideals.
Each society has its own, different standards, and only those inside it are bound by those standards and can properly criticise themselves. So, moral universalism is false, because objective ethical standards vary between cultures or societies. We should not apply the same criteria of distributive justice to strangers as we would to compatriots. Nation-states that express their peoples' shared and distinctive ethical understandings are the proper institutions to enable local and different justices.
For Charles Blattberg , however, there exists a particularist approach to global justice, one based upon what he calls a "global patriotism. Nationalists, such as David Miller and Yael Tamir , argue that demanding mutual obligations are created by a particular kind of valuable association, the nation. Nationalism has traditionally included this assumption of differing moral obligations to those within and those outside the nation, reflected for example in the fact that the benefits of the welfare state are not available to citizens of other countries.
So, moral universalism is too simple, because the ethical standards that apply between compatriots differ from those that apply between strangers although some nationalists argue for the universal ethical standard that nations should have their own states. Distributive justice is an issue within nations but not necessarily between them. And a world-system of nation-states is the appropriate organiser of justice for all, in their distinct associational groups.
In the society of states tradition, states are seen as individual entities that can mutually agree on common interests and rules of interaction, including moral rules, in much the same way as human individuals can. Often, this idea of agreement between peers is formalised by a social contract argument. One prominent exemplar of the tradition is John Rawls. His argument is that we can justify a global regime by showing that it would be chosen by representatives of Peoples in an imagined original position , which prevents them knowing which particular People they represent.
This decision-in-ignorance models fairness because it excludes selfish bias. When Rawls applied this method in the case of domestic justice, with parties in the original position representing individual members of a single society, he argued that it supported a redistributive , egalitarian liberal politics. In contrast, Rawls argues that when his method is applied to global justice, it supports a quite traditional, Kantian international ethics: duties of states to obey treaties and strict limits on warmaking , but no global repossession of private property. So, different justices apply to the domestic and international cases.