Ethics in international political economy: no question about it

Kamminga, M. R., 2019, In : Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics. 21, 1, p. 315-330 16 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

‘Conventional’ models of how the field of international political economy should engage with ethics have proposed or assumed the normative primacy of ethical principles and often sought to add reliable empirical-economic analysis so that political perspectives on economic systems, institutions, and practices can result. James Brassett and Christopher Holmes (2010) have criticized such approaches for overlooking the potentially ‘violent’ character of ethics as ‘a constitutive discourse like any other’. The present article defends the conventional method against Brassett and Holmes’s critique. Focusing especially on Thomas Pogge’s ethics of world poverty as Brassett and Holmes’s main conventionalist target, the article argues that: (i) Brassett and Holmes’s understanding of ‘ethics’ is seriously inadequate; (ii) Pogge’s ‘negative duty not to harm’ principle should be maintained against Brassett and Holmes’s troublingly ‘political’ account and facile ‘relativist’ critique of Pogge’s ethics; (iii) Brassett and Holmes, while conceivably critical of Pogge’s global-level reformist solution as superficially ‘neo-liberal’, cannot see that their own, arguably valuable proposal of radical local forms of ‘resistance’ can coherently complete Pogge’s poverty ethics and thus confirms, rather than undermines, the conventional method. Ultimately, Brassett and Holmes’s post-structural attempt risks being ‘violent’ itself for implying a renewed international moral skepticism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-330
Number of pages16
JournalEtica & Politica / Ethics & Politics
Issue number1
Early online date14-Apr-2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • ethics, IPE, Thomas Pogge, violence, global poverty, POVERTY, HARM

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