Development practitioners

Absent in the deliberative discourse on development ethics

Authored by: Chloe Schwenke

Routledge Handbook of Development Ethics

Print publication date:  July  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138647909
eBook ISBN: 9781315626796
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter places development practitioners within the context of deep moral and ethical conflicts that are inherent in the practice of development, and considers how this community might be better engaged in a broader and deeper conversation to make international development efforts not only more effective and efficient but also more morally defensible and desirable. Within this community of development and humanitarian relief practitioners, development ethics remains more notable by its absence from any vibrant discourse. There are many reasons for this silence, ranging from policy norms that eschew the discussion of “soft” subjects to a pervasive lack of practice in using a moral vocabulary. Leading development institutions have neither regular staffing positions nor project assignments for development ethicists, and normative concerns seldom are made explicit in the gritty implementation of development policies and programming. Even those development institutions that take pride in their “mission-driven” staff fail to actually deliberate the significance of their mission. Sadly, the meaning of “ethics” is also frequently misunderstood, in many minds being narrowly equated only to regulatory codes and legal mechanisms around transparency and the constraint of corruption.

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