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Can We Think Systematically About Ethics and Statecraft? [Abstract]

Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 8 (1994)

Welch's essay addresses the complicated issue of whether to hold leaders accountable for their ethical decisions and conduct. Are there minimal standards for ethical behavior? Welch explains that moral theory can help frame the relationship between ethics and international affairs, but he cites the difficulty of finding the "one" ethical tradition on which we base our judgments. How do we resolve the dilemma of addressing a broader audience and an increasingly "diverse set of principles and commitments" and still agree upon standards for ethical conduct in international affairs? Welch considers the "wide array of competing and incommensurable foundations for ethical judgement" among and within modern societies. He finds promise in the increased number of moral regimes and addresses the possibility of an ethical scale of conduct that could be used as a guideline for decision making and a way for judging the "ethical performance" of leaders.


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