Values and Issues in International Affairs
Since the moral issues involved in the Cold War receded, the world has faced new ethical problems involving environmental action, trade policy, economic sanctions, dealing with terrorism, use of drones, cyberwarfare, mass refugee flows, and decisions on when and where to intervene abroad to aid those suffering from atrocities and ethnic conflicts.
Actually, in both periods most of the moral choices have just been variations on themes as old as civilization. This course will stress the processes of "moral reasoning" to decide where a nation's obligations lie when moral principles conflict.
This is a course in "applied ethics". We will take the moral principles generally used by writers on international ethics and apply them to currently relevant political, economic, military, and environmental topics. We will briefly contrast various approaches to the role of morality in international affairs: realism vs. idealism, absolutism vs. consequentialism, and natural law vs. positive law. However, this is not a course in the philosophy of international ethics. We will not be concerned with how the main writers in the field have derived the approaches they take, that is, we will not be looking into the epistemology of international ethics. Thus we will be more concerned with the writings of Michael Walzer, Stanley Hoffman, and Reinhold Niebuhr than with those of Aristotle, Kant, and John Rawls.