BPC-110 Ethics and Morality

What relevance do ethical considerations have in international conduct? Is ethical action possible, given the realities of group interests and power politics? And how, in ethical terms, can international acts be evaluated? The course explores the possibilities for ethical action in international affairs. It is common to theorize international relations in terms of interests and power, but this fails to account for the frequent invocation of the language of justice and fairness in actual international interactions. The United States often engages in conflict less than total war for reasons involving both self-interest and ethical conviction, political leaders and soldiers have often observed limits in their resort to war and the conduct of battle.  This course examines the significance of international political morality in shaping individual and collective conduct of foreign relations and investigates the ethical nature of the rules, structures, and informal patterns of the international system.  This class analyzes choices that are made about the use of force, resolving conflict, promoting human rights and social justice, encouraging democracy and development, preserving the environment, and participating in international organizations. Special attention is given to the American experience as a principal case study of ethics and statecraft.