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International Ethics: A Critical Introduction



International Ethics: A Critical Introduction

Richard Shapcott

ISBN: 978-0-745-63142-4 May 2010 Polity 272 Pages

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Is it is justifiable to make any basic moral distinction between 'insiders and outsiders'? Do we have substantive duties of 'justice' to all human beings or merely Humanitarian duties of aid and assistance? These are two of the most crucial questions confronting world politics and the field of international ethics today.

International Ethics: A Critical Introduction provides an engaging and accessible introduction to these foundational questions. In a cogent and carefully argued analysis, Richard Shapcott critically examines the theories of cosmopolitanism, communitarianism, realism and pluralism and scrutinises their approaches to the various obligations which members of 'bounded' communities, primarily nation-states, have to 'outsiders' and 'foreigners'. He then takes the theoretical approaches in context by discussing the ethics of hospitality and membership of political communities, issues of mutual aid and humanitarianism abroad, the ethics of harm related to interstate international violence, and the challenge of severe global poverty. The book concludes by suggesting that the terms of international ethical life in the 21st century require reframing in a way that focuses more intently on the nature of harm between communities and individuals.

This book provides students and scholars with a conceptual framework with which to analyse the policies, actions and philosophy of governments, NGOs and international corporations. Above all, it offers the means whereby individuals can assess their own positions on contemporary ethical issues such as global poverty, humanitarian intervention, migration and refugees and global warming.




Hospitality: Entry and Membership.

Humanitarianism and Mutual Aid.

The Ethics of Harm: Violence and Just War.

Impermissible Harms: Global Poverty and Global Justice.




"The emphasis on Kant's harm principle as a method of analysis to determine which communitarian and cosmopolitan parameters are conducive to anti-violence, global justice, and so forth, is rather brilliant and is one of the major contributions this work makes."
Journal of Democratic Theory

"Unfailingly lucid and admirably comprehensive, International Ethics skilfully guides the reader through the complexities of recent debates on the morality of war and intervention, poverty and social justice, and the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. A strong argument for a cosmopolitan ethic of respecting persons, displaying hospitality and avoiding harm is advanced in this impressive work which deserves pride of place in courses on global ethics."
Andrew Linklater, Aberystwyth University

"A thoughtful, lively and stimulating account of international ethics that speaks directly to contemporary audiences. It is an accessible yet sophisticated guide to the hard questions raised by moral reflection and ethical practice in today's increasingly globalized world."
Patrick Hayden, University of St Andrews

  • comprehensive and engaging introduction to the difficult terrain of international ethics

  • aims is to provide the reader with a set of frameworks and concepts with which he or she can situate and assess any number of ethical challenges and solutions

  • illuminates theoretical arguments with pertinent historical and up-to-date examples

  • clearly written, this book is the ideal introduction for students and also provides a unique and original contribution to the field