Just Out: "Ethics & International Affairs" Spring 2021 Issue

May 11, 2021

The editors of Ethics & International Affairs are pleased to present the Spring 2021 issue of the journal!

The highlight of this issue is a roundtable organized by Madison Powers on ethics and the future of the global food system. The roundtable contains contributions from Paul B. Thompson; Yashar Saghai; Anne Barnhill and Jessica Fanzo; Mark Budolfson; and Madison Powers. Additionally, the issue includes a feature article by Christopher Kutz on resource sovereignty. It also contains an essay by Yuna Han, Katharine M. Millar, and Martin J. Bayly on COVID-19 as a mass death event and an essay by Sea Young Kim and Leif-Eric Easley on women's rights in North Korea. The issue also includes a review essay by Adam Henschke on states and political violence and book reviews by Mark Berlin, Helder De Schutter, and Paul Saurette.


COVID-19 as a Mass Death Event [Open Access]Yuna Han, Katharine M. Millar, and Martin J. Bayly This essay argues that in order to fully understand the politics arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to focus on the individual and collective experiences of death, loss, and grief. Centering the impact of the pandemic on the experience of death and loss directly poses the question of how politics should value human lives in the post-pandemic world, helping us better formulate the normative questions necessary for a more ethical future.

The Neglected North Korean Crisis: Women's RightsSea Young Kim and Leif-Eric Easley North Korea references gender equality in its socialist constitution, but the de facto social and legal circumstances that women face in the country are far below the de jure status they are purported to enjoy. This essay examines the dangers of exploitation that North Korean women face and highlights the ethical and legal imperatives of supporting their roles in marketizing the economy and liberalizing the society in one of the worst human rights–violating states.


Introduction: Ethics and the Future of the Global Food System [Open Access]Madison PowersThe coming decades will present an immense challenge for the planet: sustainably feeding nearly ten billion people that are expected to be alive by 2050. This is no small task, and one that intersects with climate change, geopolitics, the increased globalization of agricultural markets, and the emergence of new technologies. The essays in this roundtable aim to shift the conversation toward normative issues, including the fair distribution of benefits and burdens, the ethical implications of the power differentials in existing patterns of market organization, and geopolitical-bargaining imbalances in the creation of trade rules and agricultural standards.

Food System Transformation and the Role of Gene Technology: An Ethical Analysis Paul B. ThompsonOpposition to the first generation of plants and animals transformed through rDNA-enabled gene transfer (so-called GMOs) has been a signature episode in resistance to the forces of industrialization and globalization in the food system. Yet agricultural scientists continue to tout gene technology as an essential component in meeting future global food needs. This essay argues that charting a middle course that realizes the benefits of gene technology while blocking its use in the perpetration of unjust harms may require a more detailed grasp of intricacies in the food system than even motivated bystanders are willing to develop.

Subversive Future Seeks Like-Minded Model: On the Mismatch between Visions of Food Sovereignty Futures and Quantified Scenarios of Global Food FuturesYashar SaghaiFood sovereignty is conspicuously absent from quantified scenarios of global food futures. This essay identifies seven obstacles that undermine the creation of food sovereignty scenarios by examining two attempts at crafting such scenarios.

Nourishing Humanity without Destroying the PlanetAnne Barnhill and Jessica FanzoBy 2050, as the global population increases, food demand will increase by 50–60 percent. A fundamental challenge is meeting this demand while not wreaking irreversible havoc on natural resources, the environment, and planetary systems.

Arguments for Well-Regulated Capitalism, and Implications for Global Ethics, Food, Environment, Climate Change, and BeyondMark BudolfsonDiscourse on food ethics often advocates the anti-capitalist idea that we need less capitalism, less growth, and less globalization if we want to make the world a better and more equitable place. However, many experts argue that this anti-capitalist idea is not supported by reason and argument, and is actually wrong. The main contribution of this essay is to explain the structure of the leading arguments against this anti-capitalist idea, and in favor of well-regulated capitalism.

Food and the Global Political EconomyMadison PowersThis essay examines how the key decisions within the global system of food production are shaped by the organization of the global political economy. The understanding of the global political economy follows standard definitions that focus on the dominant market practices and the institutional structures within which those practices are embedded.


Resources for the People—but Who Are the People? Mistaken Nationalism in Resource SovereigntyChristopher KutzThis article makes the argument that the extracted value of natural resources should benefit all residents of the states in which they are found, not merely all citizens. By contrast, control of natural resources should be vested in a democratic citizenry. The argument is illustrated with data showing the gap, especially in the Gulf States, between principles that allocate benefits to all citizens vs. to all resident workers.


Rethinking the Nature of States and Political ViolenceAdam HenschkeIt is a long-held belief that states must retain the monopoly over political violence in order to be states, and to survive. However, there are recent criticisms of this view forcing us to consider not just the state’s use of political violence but the very nature of the state. This review essay engages with three recently published books on the topic.

REVIEWS [All Open Access]

Interrogation and Torture: Integrating Efficacy with Law and MoralitySteven J. Barela, Mark Fallon, Gloria Gaggioli, and Jens David Ohlin, eds.Review by Mark BerlinThe book’s overarching thesis is that noncoercive interrogation techniques are not only more ethical and more lawful than coercive ones but also more effective than them—both in terms of gaining useful information from subjects and the broader costs and benefits to society.

Territorial Sovereignty: A Philosophical ExplorationAnna StilzReview by Helder De SchutterAnna Stilz’s Territorial Sovereignty offers a defense of the international system of states, understood as self-governing, spatial units with territorial boundaries that make and enforce collective rules. Stilz defends the state against all its enemies, especially against political cosmopolitans and global state defenders, but also against nonterritorialists and anarchists.

The Consequences of National HumiliationJoslyn BarnhartReview by Paul SauretteThe book’s core argument is that states that experience significant national humiliation demonstrate an increased likelihood of adopting a variety of clearly identifiable (and sometimes counterintuitive) patterns of behavior that are measurably different than the cases of comparable nonhumiliated control groups.

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