Universality, ethics and international relations : a by VÃ'¨Ã'¦ronique Pin-Fat

By VÃ'¨Ã'¦ronique Pin-Fat

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The amoralist position maintains that: If about matters of value there is no truth or falsity to be had, then an actor is warranted in ignoring traditional moral injunctions and following the dictates of self-interest or prudence or, indeed, any other imperative at all. The core of amoralism, then, is that any reasons are good reasons for action. 5 The subjectivist position, on the other hand, holds that a person’s reasons for ethical action derive from their own values, interests or desires and that these cannot be objectively established via truth conditions (verifiability) or conditions of falsity (falsifiability).

For some, in addition to the epistemological disjunctions described above, there exists a fundamental ontological disjunction. It is ontological because it focuses on some aspect or aspects of what is purported to be the reality of world politics (the nature of its existence) that prevents either the appropriateness and/or the possibility of ethics in world politics. 36 Universality as conjunctive solution The ontological disjunction that we will focus on here is the separation of domestic politics from international politics.

This can lead to a form of moral scepticism in international politics as to the possibility of universal criteria transcending their cultural and social roots. And, indeed, this particular aspect of scepticism is a central theme for each of the theorists that this book reads grammatically. An expression of this form of scepticism is pithily articulated in the claim that ‘most accounts of the universal values that might underlie a cosmopolitan ethic seem suspiciously like inadequately camouflaged versions of the first ten Amendments of the Constitution of the United States of America’ (Brown 1988/89: 105–6).

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