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Development ethics

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L016-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

Development ethics is ethical reflection on the ends and means of socioeconomic change in poor countries and regions. It has several sources: criticism of colonialism and post-Second World War development strategies; Denis Goulet’s writings; Anglo-American philosophical debates about the ethics of famine relief; and Paul Streeten’s and Amartya Sen’s approaches to development.

Development ethicists agree that the moral dimension of development theory and practice is just as important as the scientific and policy components. What is often called ‘development’ – economic growth, for instance – may be bad for people, communities and the environment. Hence, the process of development should be reconceived as beneficial change, usually specified as alleviating human misery and environmental degradation in poor countries.

Development ethicists do not yet agree on whether their ethical reflection should extend to destitution in rich countries or aspects of North–South relations apart from development aid. Other unresolved controversies concern the status and content of substantive development norms. Finally, agreement does not yet exist as to how the benefits of and responsibilities for development should be distributed within and between countries.

Citing this article:
Crocker, David A.. Development ethics, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L016-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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