Posts Tagged

Ethics

John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, recently posted a long statement explaining his opposition to same-sex marriage. Some of it appeared in the Guardian and on the Guardian’s CIF Belief blog. In it he referenced an interview he recently gave to the Daily Telegraph, which contains the following statement: We supported Civil Partnerships (the bishops in the House of Lords), because we believe that friendships are good for everybody. Like other religious opponents of same-sex marriage, he goes on to argue that civil partnership is “in every respect in ethical terms an honourable contract of a committed relationship”. Same-sex couples, he therefore says, should not press for marriage. But his factual claim is false. The main Lords debate on the …

In Israel and the Palestinian territories, decades of conflict have not offered ripe soil for mutual understanding and peace on reasonable terms. Endless confrontation has eroded hopes for successful negotiations. Nonetheless, the frequent reference to a ‘status quo’ in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is mistaken – in my opinion, it’s pure political rhetoric and this conflict is anything but one of attrition. Every day, new settler houses are being built in the West Bank and east Jerusalem – on Palestinian land. Everyday bricks are added to the anti-terrorist fence (or apartheid wall, as some call it), thereby outcasting communities of shared history, as well as hindering commerce and splitting communities (and families) apart. The Israeli government, meanwhile, has authorised the building …

At the Alumni Weekend 2011, Dr Mark Philp, Professor Simon Caney and Dr Adam Swift discussed the issue of intergenerational justice and asked questions about how we should allocate resources inter-generationally across areas such as welfare, pensions, higher education and the environment. By means of introduction, Dr Mark Philp, Fellow and Tutor in Politics of Oriel College and a Lecturer in Politics in the University since 1983 as well as a former Head of the Department of Politics and International Relations, set out some necessary assumptions for a worthwhile discussion of intergenerational justice: a non-deterministic world in which our choices actually matter, and an absence of either huge optimism or pessimism about the future (either of which would make worrying …

The role of the mutual sector in forging a strong economy and a more equal society is fast becoming hotly contested territory in British party politics. In the wake of the most severe global depression for more than eighty years and the search for viable and practical alternatives to neo-liberalism, politicians across the ideological spectrum have ostensibly vied to champion and take ownership of the mutualist cause. The values and institutions of mutualism have the potential to act as a vehicle for a new politics of the public interest after the financial crisis, or so the argument goes. For the left in particular, mutualism offers an alternative to the Coalition government’s invocation of ‘the big society’. Nonetheless, the operating frameworks …

Pardon the self-promotion: I reviewed a new book on Reinhold Niebuhr, a theologian and realist political thinker during the Cold War, in last week’s Economist. Niebuhr died in the 1970’s but both Democrats and Republicans lean on his advice (even if misread) to guide their modern foreign policy views. Here is a snippet from my review of the book, Why Niebuhr Now?, by John Patrick Diggins, the late American intellectual historian. AFTER years in the doldrums, Reinhold Niebuhr, an American theologian, is enjoying a comeback. Although Niebuhr died in 1971, he is nowadays often name-dropped in opinion columns and highbrow chat as the ideal mind to help guide 21st-century political leaders through the ups and downs of world affairs. It …

The theory of incommensurability presents us with the view that when forced to decide between different options, we may lack the ability to objectively compare the values underlying each alternative. Though our ultimate decision may be grounded in a variety of reasons, the fact of our decision is not proof in itself that the values behind our choice are better than those that we left behind. Some principles may rise above others, according to incommensurabilists, but that means only that they have won the battle in praxis, not in ethics. The impossibility of comparison may exist in some cases, but incommensurability fails to justify the ethics behind the ranking of values in policy matters; without compromise, the valuation of equal …

In his post of 30/03/11, Marko notes the debate surrounding whether the Coalition now taking military action in Libya can arm the rebels fighting in that country. This question is perhaps part of a broader question of whether the coalition can provide other military aid to the rebels, for example, by providing close air support for rebel advances into towns under the control of Col Gaddafi’s forces. As Marko notes, while the US and UK  have both denied that they have made a decision to provide arms to the rebels (see here and here), they have both argued that providing arms to the rebels would not be a breach of the arms embargo imposed by Security Council Resolution 1970. In fact media reports today …