Individual Level: a Re-Evaluation of Global Moral Concern

Topics: Morality, Equality, Human Pages: 5 (1522 words) Published: April 22, 2013
Individual Level: A Re-evaluation of Global Moral Concern
LIU Yiwen Tristan 3035022253

This paper serves to point out inherent pitfalls of the general justification of the following four versions of partial or impartial approaches to international moral, namely, (1). Cosmopolitanism: everyone owes everyone else equal moral concern, and even a weaker form that permits favouritism in certain small groups like relatives; (2). Compatriots favouritism is required (CFR);

(3). Co-national favouritism is required (CNFR); and
(4). Any other forms of favouritism that require prior moral concern of a considerably large group over another, which we may temporarily call ‘mass favouritism required’ (MFR) for convenience.

Major Justifications of Cosmopolitanism, CFR, CNFR and MFR
Generally, cosmopolitanism resorts to equal basic human rights and the impartial nature of justice under the veil of ignorance to defend the stance. But as I will point out later in this paper, cosmopolitanism in the form above can hardly be justified by these two basis, even when they are both correct.

Then let us look at the approaches in effort to defend the favouritisms above. Basically, the major justification of CFR, CNFR and MFR can be classified into the following two categories: (1). Appealing to certain non-moral-related characteristics that distinguish group members with outsiders; or (2). Appealing to the moral value of the boundary per se.

Examples of the first category are, say, that CFR defends such moral priority by (1) contribution of citizens, (2) common commitment to one set of principles and values, (3) common goals, (4) vulnerability and utilitarian effectiveness, (5) reciprocity, and (6) intimacy; CNFR by (7) shared beliefs and mutual commitment, (8) common history, and, similarly, other MFR like cultural relativism by (9) shared understandings. For the second category, CFR may argue that (10) relationships require obligation; similar as friendship, which requires certain extent of loyalty and devotion, citizenship contains in itself the obligation of patriotism1. CNFR may use a (11) ‘critical strategy’ to stress the value to individuals of belonging to nations. It emphasizes that the nominal boundary of ‘nation’ unites its members horizontally with moral equality, renders them the sense of belonging and solidarity, and enhance internal redistributive practices. Or it can also use a (12) ‘conservative strategy’ to judge national attachment on condition that people actually feel and think the same way (Jones p.155-158).

Rejections from the Individual Level
In this part, I will first reject CFR, CNFR and MFR, and then disclose some more essential problems of both cosmopolitanism and the previous three partial approaches from an individual-level perspective.

The basic assumption I make here is that individuals are of multiple attributes and degrees. By this I mean that every person has, externally, multiple roles and relationships, rights and obligations, etc.; and internally, rationality and emotions, good and evil, etc. In addition, different traits occupy different utilitarian proportion in a person’s decision-making. With this, I shall raise my first rejection against argument (1) ~ (9):

Prescriptively, there exist non-overlapping areas of the group distinguished by these non-moral-related characters and the group defined by CFR, CNFR and MFR. For example, if CFR can be justified by citizens’ contribution, then for a compatriot, say, a poor worker who lives on government aid, he may not contribute so much as a foreign billionaire who donated $100 million to this country after a natural disaster. Then in this case, CFR contradicts itself in requiring prior moral concern for this worker than that billionaire. Actually in each every point from (1) ~ (9), it is not difficult to find exceptions in individual units that cause similar contradictions, and more importantly such exceptions are usually of...
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