On Universalist and Pluralist Approaches to Action: Ethics and Development in a Diverse Universe

Cross, Karie (2016). 'On Universalist and Pluralist Approaches to Action: Ethics and Development in a Diverse Universe' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

abstract The HDCA Ethics and Development Thematic Group calls for the timely analysis of the impacts of universalistic or particularistic approaches to rights, politics and development, when considering individual and collective capabilities. Should we depart from identifying and assembling universal principles, including intercultural deliberation for selecting them? Should we, instead, as a paradoxical universal principle, always embrace plurality and context-sensitive ethical guidelines for assessing human well-being, development and freedom? Or should we opt for a blending of both approaches, doing so according to which universally applicable guidelines? Three papers explore these important questions of universalism and particularism, keeping diversity and questions of participation particularly in mind. 1. Johannes Waldmuller: What are the governmental trade-offs and contradictions between individual rights and the right to development? How do they relate to individual and collective capabilities? He looks particularly at the expansion of extractive industries in Ecuador. 2. Sirkku Hellsten: Should global ethics be based on universal moral principles, or grounded in pluralism, encompassing multiple traditions? She supports the latter, privileging Sen's approach over Nussbaum's. 3. Nicholas Simpson: How can we best undertake environmental assessment? He lays out and analyzes principles shared by the capabilities approach and the Environemtnal Impact Assessment and recommends that environmental assessment should be undertaken with a minimum threshold of participation, which cannot reasonably be rejected. See the panel description below for a much fuller exposition of the panel theme.

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