Dialogue and International Ethics: Religion, Cultural Diversity and Universalism

Authored by: Richard Shapcott

The Ashgate Research Companion to Ethics and International Relations

Print publication date:  September  2009
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754671015
eBook ISBN: 9781315612935
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043546


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Ever since human beings gathered into social groups they have been confronted by the issue of how to treat outsiders. Most communities have drawn significant moral distinctions between insiders and outsiders, applying different standards accordingly. Nevertheless, many communities and individuals have also offered hospitality, aid and charity to strangers with whom they come into contact. The study of international ethics focuses on how members of ‘bounded’ communities, primarily nation-states, ought to treat ‘outsiders’ and ‘strangers’. Most accounts of international ethics have had to ask how it is possible to treat others as equals in a world characterized by two conditions: (1) the existence of international anarchy, and (2) moral pluralism. International ethics as a separate field of enquiry arises because the division of humanity into separate communities makes the application of any particular community’s ethical code difficult when applied to others.

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