Lawrence Freedman is professor of war studies and head of the School of Social Sciences and Public Policy at King's College London.
Lawrence Freedman on
People are much more aware of alternative views of morality. They may oppose them, they may find them puzzling, but they are aware that there's more than one way to view the world, that their own moralities can't be just accepted as being God-given and certain.
The point about politics and ethics is always one of choice. If morality were easy and showed a clear way forward, then we wouldn't have so many problems. But often you're posing one morality against another. So I don't think there's a single ethical issue that dominates all. I think what you need are ways of interspersing ethics with political analysis.
We have seen in many countries a real movement that takes people out of poverty and produces economic growth, which gives people standards of living that previous generations didn't have. But it comes at a cost. I think the real challenge is to find ways of developing productive, satisfying societies that don't produce the environmental problems and don't have a lot of the stresses and strains that we face now.
Conflict arises because of scarcity: There isn't enough food; there isn't enough space. There are conflicts of values. It's hard to imagine a world without scarcity or without conflicts of values, in which case there's likely to be something to fight about.
I think good leaders make people aware of the costs of a course of action, the difficulties of a course of action, rather than just oversell the benefits.
I think the real challenge is to find ways of developing productive, satisfying societies that don't produce the environmental problems and don't have a lot of the stresses and strains that we face now. I think that's very difficult, but that's the challenge.