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Reclaiming Value in International Development Chloe Schwenke, Ph.D. Fulbright Associate Professor, Ethics and Public Management Programme, Department of.

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Presentation on theme: "Reclaiming Value in International Development Chloe Schwenke, Ph.D. Fulbright Associate Professor, Ethics and Public Management Programme, Department of."— Presentation transcript:

1 Reclaiming Value in International Development Chloe Schwenke, Ph.D. Fulbright Associate Professor, Ethics and Public Management Programme, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts Makerere University, Kampala

2 The Wandegeya woman and child Unhealthy environment Begging as a way of life?

3 Do I give her money?

4 Considerations Provide a modicum of relief Encourage her dependency ~ an inducement to her and her baby to remain in that dangerous environment Handouts may discourage her from seeking a more sustainable and wholesome lifestyle My own sense of identity and connection with those around me

5 Where do I stop? Do I give her something every single time I see her? – If not, why not? Do I invest in her welfare more substantially, helping her out of poverty? – Is she motivated to pursue such a course?

6 What if…? What if she has some deeper psychological problems? What of the many, many, many more persons like her? – Why this one woman and her child, and not them?

7 The situation in the North Over 1.6 million persons in an austere and undignified existence Seeking a basic (perhaps the most basic) human right: security –Escape from the atrocities of the LRA Making “human dignity” and the “value of a human life” meaningless terms?

8 An extreme moral dilemma Two decades of inhumanity and brutality – Abduction of children for child soldiers or sex slaves – Sadistic torture and mutilation of innocent civilians How to respond – morally? Who is accountable?

9 The view from Washington Encountering poverty: a less frequent, less extreme – experience –Victims of conflict largely invisible Most development, peacebuilding, and “foreign aid” is conceived of, managed from, and taught in a “Washington environment”

10 Insulating ourselves Washington environment makes problems of development and conflict remote, abstract Here ~ no such excuse for moral detachment –Yet to wealthier Ugandans and expatriates, victims and causes of poverty and conflict are often viewed as abstract phenomena We avoid looking the problem in the face

11 The sin of “abstraction”? A useful, essential analytical method Maintain an objective perspective, unclouded by emotion Finding the statistical footprint of: –Global poverty and injustice –Poor governance and corruption –International crime and terrorism –Brutally violent conflict –Globalization

12 Yet we seek to know… Why are poverty, poor governance, and conflict such intractable problems? Why does the moral dimension goes largely unstated? –Too painful to ponder? –An old story? –An insolvable but remote conundrum? Is confronting poverty and conflict at a personal level counterproductive?

13 The economics lens ~ 1 Relatively easy to apply Empirical dimensions of development, governance, and conflict essential to our effectiveness and understanding Statistics are amoral and value-free

14 The economics lens ~ 2 More tractable Less prone to emotionally clouded or sentimental reactions More “relevant” in our economics- based worldview?

15 Through the economics lens The poor clearly not living “quality” lives 2.4 billion lack access to basic sanitation More than 1 billion exist on unsafe water 800 million persons are undernourished 34,000 children younger than five die each day from hunger and preventable disease More than one third of all human deaths linked to poverty and violent conflicts –such deaths are mostly preventable!

16 Lost from the economic lens The plight of one mother and child begging in Wandegeya –among the “fortunate” ones? Is the mere fact of continued survival “fortunate”? What ought a human life to be like?

17 Economism ~ an ideology The prevailing worldview Human activity and decision-making = a function of economics and “the market” Success and effectiveness of social, political, and cultural institutions judged on: –the nature of the flow of capital –the existence of effective competition The maximization of profit The ultimate unit of measurement = the (self-interested) individual

18 The statistical trade-off Converting the faces and the voices of the poor into data –We lose something important! We become less sensitive to urgency and the moral challenges of development

19 Trading off the moral burden? Ignoring or abstracting away the personal tragedies of poverty doesn’t diminish the moral burden – it doesn’t go away –The mother and child at Wandegeya will be there today, and tomorrow –The tragedy in the North continues…

20 Inescapable moral dilemma Societies defined by interdependencies –Complex web of obligations – many moral and ethical. Why is development dialogue, research, policy, and practice not commonly thought of in moral terms?

21 Where is the moral lens?

22 Valuing life Where we draw the threshold on: – Basic services? – Basic nutrition? – Basic human rights and freedoms? – Basic opportunities? – Basic human dignity? Or something more? – Who ought to decide?

23 The “left out” questions ~ 1 How ought we to value a human life? How ought we to allocate the available resources to those in need? What more ought we to do to assist others in need, and why? What responsibility do those in need have? –Agents for their own solutions to their poverty and conflict?

24 The “left out” questions ~ 2 When we draw the boundaries of our moral community, who ought to be included? – Who left out? – Why? Why ought we to care about – and act to alleviate – the plight of those less fortunate? The economics lens grows dark

25 Morality is… Moralities differ in their: –content ~ rituals, sexual practices, minimizing harm to others –foundational premises ~ commands of God, human nature, reason Arbitrary “morality” might allow slavery, cannibalism, or racism

26 Confusion through the moral lens? Moral point of view must be ordered if it is to be of value as a tool for improving human development Ethics is the ordering of moral value systems Through ethics, moral concepts can be systematically considered, evaluated, and applied

27 But whose values? What does morality mean? –For each individual –For our society –For our choice of priorities and actions Morality is about values, but whose values? –How do we decide?

28 The values landscape Societies are shaped by: –Cultural values –Religious values –Secular values –Idiosyncratic personal values Society’s identity = a set of shared values –Forged as much by the conflict of values as by their harmony

29 Ethics The discipline that society uses to reconcile and reach consensus on values Ethics brings order and structure to moral values –Deliberating on what is “good” or “right” (and “bad” and “wrong”), virtuous or vicious –Creating rational and persuasive moral systems Considers fundamental principles that: –Define values Specify and assign moral obligations

30 International Development Practice The “development industry” Economism has framed development into a business Development pursued using –The rules of business –The virtues of efficiency, effectiveness Accountability to those who provide the funding (taxpayers or contributors)

31 Motivating development actors Different values and motivations –Professionalism –Ideological or political frameworks Few stop to reflect on values All share some sense of bringing aid and assistance to the needy –Helping “them” ~ altruism, or moral obligation?

32 Guiding development actors How ought priorities to be set and by whom? How do we navigate – morally – between –“us vs. them” –“rich vs. poor” –“North vs. South” without ethical guidance?

33 Development Ethics Ethical reflection on the ends and means of socioeconomic change in poor countries and regions: “In what direction and by what means should a society ‘develop’”? –David Crocker Development reconceived as beneficial change, alleviating human misery and environmental degradation in poor countries, and fostering an environment of sustainable peace

34 The ethics toolkit A comprehensive set of moral approaches that facilitate reflection and dialogue upon the many urgent moral concerns, motivations, obligations, and competing priorities associated with development, governance, and peacebuilding

35 Development values and norms The subject matter of development ethics: –human dignity –essential freedoms –social justice –peace –civic virtue –human flourishing –the “common good” –gender equality –safety and security –participation and inclusion

36 An academic pastime? Choices that individuals, institutions, groups, and governments make significantly affect others, for good or for ill Careful evaluation needed of issues and choices of development, governance, and peacebuilding : –Factually –Conceptually –Ethically Choices we make may be harmful or even tragic for some – or many – persons

37 The work of Development Ethics - 1 Development ethics directly addresses fundamental – and controversial – topics: –The dignity and worth of each human being –The moral equality of all human beings –The moral dimensions that motivate and sustain development actions –What ought to constitute peacebuilding –What values and virtues ought to constitute the “good” of good governance –Who ought to make development decisions

38 The work of Development Ethics - 2 –The meaning of both “peace” and “development” –The extent and nature of our moral obligations to and claims on others –The moral demands of social justice –The moral bases of legitimacy of government –The moral justifications for broad-based stakeholder participation in analysis, deliberations, and decision-making on development and governance

39 Turning the tables Development ethics places the burden of proof on any who would deny the validity of the claims of: –Those seeking common standards of international justice –Those who argue for an ethic of care –Those who argue that civic virtue is essential to our social, economic, political, and cultural institutions

40 Facing the truth Development ethics exposes the indecency and moral impermissibility of poverty, violent conflict, and bad governance –To all human beings –To the natural environment

41 Starting with you! Development ethics challenges each of us to reflect upon our own values and priorities Such a process can: –be profoundly transformative to our selves, our communities, our nations, and our world –strengthen our understanding of our common humanity


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