Ethics matter. This is not only the tag line for the Carnegie Council. It is also the proposition of my work. Many writers take up ethical issues. But few have the vantage point of the Carnegie Council — a place where leaders from around the world come to share ideas, reflect on their experiences, and engage in public conversation.

Posted here are lectures, articles, and reviews reflecting my engagement with the Council’s activities. If there is a pattern, one might say it is opportunistic, seeking to add the ethical dimension to debates ongoing. One might also see a thread of realism. In my view, power and ethics are inseparable and are best considered together. …

Ethics and War in Homer’s Iliad

When I was in 9th grade, confronting the Iliad for the first time, I had two questions. First, why is it so important that we read the so-called classics? And second what is a classic anyway? It is only now, all these years later, that I can finally answer these questions.

We read the classics because they tell us something essential about human nature. A classic text endures because it touches on an unchanging truth of human experience. A classic is a time machine. It enables us to travel through time and across cultures; and it speaks to us in a language we recognize as essential, enduring and true. The history of the world is the history of violence and war, and the Iliad remains the original benchmark for our understanding of war’s human dimensions.

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In Search of a Global Ethic

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.

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Carnegie Council President Joel Rosenthal on Global Ethics

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.

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