Globalized Ethics and Current Institutions

Globalized Ethics and Current Institutions

Robert A. Schultz (Woodbury University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-922-9.ch011
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In this chapter, I will examine the extent to which current institutions might be able to implement the principles of global justice. I will begin with a few remarks about a market economy and continue with the two major institutions involved in the global economy--states and multinational corporations. Then I will consider other current transnational institutions such as world financial and economic institutions (World Bank, IMF, WTO), the United Nations and World Court, and other transnational NGOs. Finally, a number of practices have transnational impacts, and the Global Principles of Justice require changes to those practices. These are: Property and intellectual property, taxes, and Internet regulation.
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States, Superpowers, And Global Justice

Any transnational authority raises a major issue for nation-states: Is their own sovereignty compromised? As we have seen, the US has refused to accept the authority of the World Court because its decisions would override decisions made by US personnel. There are, however, some cases in which it would be to the advantage of nation states to accede to a transnational authority with the power to enforce transnational edicts. Nation-states by themselves cannot easily deal with tax-shifting by multinationals precisely because they have economic authority only within their own states.

A global institution able to deal with tax-shifting could be to the cooperative advantage of all states. Even states currently receiving reduced taxes from multinationals would have the advantage of having their own tax structures honored transnationally. The authority of the World Court is a different story, however. As a superpower, the US can simply ignore international law and get the benefits of a non-cooperative solution.2 A cooperative (ethical) solution involves a loss in self-interested benefits in exchange for a gain in cooperative benefits. Accepting the authority of the world court would mean that US personnel would no longer be able to violate principles of international justice with impunity. Apparently it is not a concern that other countries following the example of the US could also violate principles of international justice, for example concerning treatment of US prisoners and the use of torture on US prisoners.

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