Volume 21, Issue 2, 2018
Global Ethics, Epistemic Colonialism, and Paths to More Democratic Knowledges
In recent decades, the literature of global ethics has promoted greater and more rigorous attention to transnational moral responsibilities. This essay argues, however, that prominent global-ethics anthologies remain burdened by Eurocentric/colonialist elements that contradict efforts to build more ethical transnational communities. Drawing on scholars of coloniality, including Enrique Dussel, Anibal Quijano, and Linda Tuhiwai Smith, the essay traces colonialist elements in deep structures of prominent global ethics texts. It examines how, even when texts argue for aid to the poor, these elements foster tendencies in the affluent world to detach from and dehumanize people on the other side of global hierarchies. They also deprive academic readers of the insights of grassroots global-justice struggles. The essay concludes by sketching some directions that those of us who study and teach global ethics might pursue in order to unsettle colonialist baggage and cultivate skills and relationships more conducive to ethical global communities.