Superpower Ethics: An Introduction [Abstract]

December 2, 1987

The first issue of Ethics & International Affairs was published in 1987, when the Cold War still dominated international affairs. It was appropriate at that time to launch the journal with an issue devoted in part to the theme "superpower ethics." In his introduction to the topic Nye argues that the challenge of establishing an ethics for the United States and the Soviet Union is not met by any traditional Western system. Aristotle's "virtue," Kant's "good intent," and the "good result" of the consequentialists are inadequate to the task of determining right on the superpower playing field. In reference to this insufficiency, Nye sketches the arguments of the subsequent articles by Mazrui, Hassner, and Hoffman, each of whom offers an instructive picture of the state of superpower ethics.

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