Is global ethics moral neo-colonialism? An investigation of the issue in the context of bioethics

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Colleges, School and Institutes


This paper considers the possibility and desirability of global ethics in light of the claim that 'global ethics' in any form is not global, but simply the imposition of one form of local ethics - Western ethics - and, as such, a form of moral neo-colonialism. The claim that any form of global ethics is moral neo-colonialism is outlined using the work of a group of 'developing world bioethicists' who are sceptical of the possibility of global ethics. The work of virtue ethicists is then introduced and compared to the position of the developing world bioethicists in order to show that the divide between 'Western' and 'non-Western' ethics is exaggerated. The final section of the paper turns to the practical arena and considers the question of global ethics in light of practical issues in bioethics. The paper concludes that practical necessity is driving the creation of global ethics and thus the pertinent question is no longer 'Whether global ethics?', but 'Why global ethics?'.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-315
Number of pages11
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2007


  • virtue ethics, global ethics, Asian values