Ethics & International Affairs Volume 12 (1998): Articles: Toward a Moral System for World Society: A Reflection on Human Responsibilities [Abstract]

Dec 4, 1998

A group of statesmen, known as the InterAction Council, in consultation with theologians and philosophers representing many cultures, has come up with a proposed Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities. It contains rules of behavior for all people based on what its authors believe to be a global consensus centering on the Golden Rule. In unveiling a global ethic, the council has, perhaps unwittingly, opened up the so-far-neglected question of what a complete moral system for world society would look like.

This essay analyses the Declaration and its related report with regard to two areas: its ecumenical religious basis and its theme of responsibility, with particular attention to the question of balance between rights and responsibilities. The question is then asked: Does a global ethic imply community? An answer to this question is sought by examining Richard Alexander's new biological theory, which presents ethics as a means of pursuing interests through collectivity. The text of the Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities is appended.

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