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Fantastic Voyage

Is it possible that globalization has brought about a convergence in moral and ethical behavior?

December 19, 2017

Detail from book cover

This book review was first published in Carnegie Reporter on December 14, and this excerpt is reposted here with kind permission. Michael Ignatieff was the Carnegie-Uehiro Centennial Chair, and his project was part of the Council's centennial activities.    

The deeper I got into Michael Ignatieff's thought-provoking new book, The Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World, the more I was reminded of the opening verse of Rudyard Kipling's poem General Summary:

We are very slightly changed
From the semi-apes who ranged India's prehistoric clay;
He that drew the longest bow Ran his brother down, you know,
As we run men down to-day.

Ignatieff's book attempts to answer the question: How far has the world's human rights index actually moved on? How far have we, today, in truth, moved on from the dark vision of Rudyard Kipling, that arch-Victorian of a century and a half ago? Have we progressed since the heady days of 1948 when the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights was constructed and endorsed by most of the world's states? And where there has been progress, what forces have driven the change? Or, as Ignatieff puts the question in his book, "Is globalization drawing us together morally? Beneath all our differences, what virtues, principles, and rules of conduct are we coming to share?"

To read this review in full, please go to Carnegie Reporter.

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