A hundred years ago Andrew Carnegie thought that world politics was about to change forever. War would be abolished. Just as private war in the form of dueling had passed from the scene, so too would the slaughters of public war become a relic of a bygone age. Carnegie even had a specific plan for how he could help make this happen. He would provide funds to build a home for an International Court of Arbitration at The Hague. He would support a League to Enforce the Peace—later to become the League of Nations. Through these new mechanisms, just as individual disputes became settled according to domestic law, international disputes would be settled by the principles and institutions of international law. Barbarism would be eclipsed by more civilized practices.
Transcript of an interview by Zach Messite, KGOU local public radio, Norman, Oklahoma.
ZACH MESSITE: What does it mean to have global ethics? How do you describe this concept?
JOEL ROSENTHAL: The way to begin the conversation is the fact that we live in a globalized world. We all live within systems that are global. We can feel this in our daily lives. We’re part of a global economy. We’re part of a global climate. We’re part of a global information system. Whether we want to be or not, or whether we admit it or not, we live in a global world.
What does one need to know to be a leader in the field of public policy? I want to argue for the centrality of ethics as a basic component of leadership training for anyone pursuing a career in public and international affairs.
If you are a student, please take a moment to ask yourself what you have learned about ethics in your time in the classroom. If you are a teacher or administrator, consider what your curriculum covers in this regard.
Carnegie Council president Joel Rosenthal discusses three pillars of ethics—pluralism, rights and responsibilities, and fairness—with Council staff members Madeleine Lynn and William Vocke.
A discussion between Joel H. Rosenthal, Michael J. Smith, William F. Felice, and Donald Eastman that took place March 8, 2005.
It was the third in a four-part series entitled “America and the World: Ethical Dimensions of Power.”
For me, the way into the study of ethics and international affairs begins with the concept of choice. Ethics is a reflection on the choices one makes and the values that come into play when making those choices: how do you justify your decisions? It’s the weighing up of competing moral claims.
I can get up here and say, “Peace is better than war,” “Life is better than death”—such aphorisms are relatively easy to deliver. And while it’s important to remind ourselves about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—doctrines like this are a kind of touchstone—in terms of the Carnegie Council’s work, ethics is more of an untidy process.