Volume 14, 1998
Other Applied Ethics
International Development Ethics
I discuss the nature and genesis of international development ethics as well as its current areas of consensus, controversies, challenges, and agenda. A relatively new field of applied ethics, international development ethics is ethical reflection on the ends and means of socioeconomic change in poor countries and regions. It has several sources: criticism of colonialism and post-World War II developmental strategies; Denis Goulet's writings; Anglo-American philosophical debates about the ethics of famine relief; and Paul Streeten's and Amartya Sen's approaches to development. Development ethicists agree that the moral dimension of development theory and practice is just as important as the scientific and policy components. What is often called "development" (e.g., economic growth) may be bad for people, communities, and the environment. Hence, the process of development should be reconceived as beneficial change, usually specified as alleviating human misery and environmental degradation in poor countries.