Notes On: “Global Ethics: Seminal Essays” – Two

Here I conclude my looking at Charles R. Beitz’s “Cosmopolitan Ideas and National Sentiment” from Global Ethics: Seminal Essays.

“Priority for compatriots might be supported by reasons pertaining to states that are themselves analogues of the reasons pertaining to persons which support the corresponding element of private morality. Or, priority for compatriots might be based on the same reasons that support the corresponding element of private morality.”

What of a notion to the later statement: it holds true due to people having a better understanding of the needs of their compatriots; if for no other reason than proximity. We have a clearer way to relate to their needs.

“Accordingly, there is an upper bound to the cost that a state can be morally required to bear in connection with pursuit of cosmopolitan goals (or any other goals). This upper bound defines the degree of priority that a government may accord to the interests of compatriots.”

This makes a certain sense when we see how democratic states are formed. The actions of the State ought to be a reflection of the will, and values, of the body politic. Thus is the importance of people having a deep understanding of how they are all connected.

“Where sacrifices are imposed on an entire population, however, this problem may not arise (supposing that the sacrifices are fairly allocated). Hence, it might be that a state may demand more of its people than its people, as individuals, must demand of themselves when cosmopolitan goals require sacrifices of them.”

As stated, if the sacrifice is equitable, and all justly do their part, then all ought to benefit. That ‘all’ can be those that are in direct proximity, compatriots, and those that are outside boarders.

“Some such reasons flow from a sense of shared loyalty: the feeling that I have obligations to compatriots simply because this is our country.”

Once again, prima facia, I do not see this as problematic. So long as once a nation has become stable it transfers, at least a portion, of its focus outside its boarders.

“I believe that such feelings are real and that they are primitive in the sense of being irreducible to feeling with a basis either in impersonal morality or in self-interest.” (emphasis added)

I think a major questions must be asked here: if the end result is the same, equitable action, does it matter if the action is rooted in some internal, impersonal, morality or if in self-interest. Without developing this thought further here, I think the answer is yes, it does matter since, for no other reason, self-interest may change.

This point is addressed by Beitz discussing again Sedgwick’s ‘general conflict’.

“If this is right his ‘general conflict’ reproduces on the large scale a pervasive dilemma of practical reasoning: how to combine different kinds of reasons for action when these reasons conflict and lack a common basis in virtue of which they can be reconciled.”

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