In This Review

One World: The Ethics Of Globalization
One World: The Ethics Of Globalization
By Peter Singer
Yale University Press, 2002, 208 pp

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, what are the obligations of nation-states to people? Famed bioethicist Singer argues that the dangers and inequalities generated by globalization demand that we rethink the privileged rights of state sovereignty and devise new ethical principles of international conduct. In his view, the search for widely acceptable principles of global fairness is not simply an intellectual exercise but an imperative that even rich and powerful countries ignore at their peril; we cannot address the vulnerabilities that globalization creates without a shared belief around the world that the system is legitimate and just. Singer then looks for practical ethical principles in the thorny areas of global warming, trade, humanitarian intervention, and foreign aid. His willingness to delve into the prosaic details of agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol on global warming and the World Trade Organization is one of the book's biggest strengths. In the end, he acknowledges that he does not know whether economic globalization has ultimately helped the world's poor. But he argues that the forces of integration require that we introduce more accountability in the ways that global decisions are made -- and look for a common understanding of fairness and justice.