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Globalization, Violence, and Ethics


  • Edward Demenchonok
  • Richard Peterson


Despite its many benefits, globalization has proven to harbor a good deal of violence. This is not only a matter of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction inaugurated by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, but includes many forms of indirect or "structural violence" resulting from the routine of economic and political institutions on the global scale. In this essay, the multifaceted phenomena of violence are approached from the standpoint of ethics. The prevailing political thinking associated with "realism" fails to address the problems of militarism and of hegemonic unilateralism. In contrast, many philosophers are critically rethinking the problem of global violence from different ethical perspectives. Despite sharing similar concerns, philosophers nevertheless differ over the role of philosophical reflection and the potentials of reason. These differences appear in two contrasting approaches associated with postmodern philosophy and discourse ethics. In the analysis of discourse ethics, attention is paid to Karl-Otto Apel's attempt of philosophically grounding a macroethics of planetary co-responsibility. At the heart of the essay is the analysis of the problem of violence, including terrorism, by Jürgen Habermas, who explains the phenomenon of violence in terms of the theory of communicative action as the breakdown of communication. Jacques Derrida's deconstruction of the notion of "terrorism" also is analyzed. According to the principle of discourse ethics, all conflicts between human beings ought to be settled in a way free of violence, through discourses and negotiations. These philosophers conclude that the reliance on force does not solve social and global problems, including those that are the source of violence. The only viable alternative is the "dialogical" multilateral relations of peaceful coexistence and cooperation among the nations for solving social and global problems. They emphasize the necessity of strengthening the international rule of law and institutions, such as a reformed United Nations. Copyright © 2009 American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Inc..

Suggested Citation

  • Edward Demenchonok & Richard Peterson, 2009. "Globalization, Violence, and Ethics," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(1), pages 51-76, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ajecsc:v:68:y:2009:i:1:p:51-76

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