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Tony Burns

This chapter examines the argument of Aristotle's Politics in relation to the theory of justice that he articulates in his Nicomachean Ethics. It first provides a biography of Aristotle before discussing his view of human nature, the starting point for understanding his views on both ethics and politics. In particular, it considers what Aristotle means when he describes man as a ‘social and political animal’ (zoon politikon). It goes on to explore the theory of justice developed in Aristotle's Ethics, focusing on the notions of proportional and arithmetical equality. It also analyses the two areas of social life in which the concept of justice has a practical application: the spheres of rectificatory and distributive justice. The chapter concludes with an assessment of the continuing relevance of Aristotle for political philosophy today, especially for the debate between John Rawls and his communitarian critics.


Richard Shapcott

This chapter examines how we should think about ethics, starting with three framing questions: Do states and their citizens have significant moral duties to the members of other countries? Should states and their militaries be morally constrained in the conduct of war? Who is morally responsible for the alleviation of global poverty? The chapter proceeds by defining ethics and considering three significant and difficult ethical issues entailed by globalization: cosmopolitanism, statism, and realist ethics. It concludes by examining the ethical dimensions of global poverty and just war. Two case studies are presented, one dealing with the ethics of migration and the other with the ethics of just war. There is also an Opposing Opinions box that debates who bears most responsibility for addressing global warming.


Ethics play a vital part of the research process. They provide a set of value-based principles that enable research to be conducted in an appropriate manner. Research ethics help ensure that the relationships built during the process of conducting social research are respectful and constructive, and that the student’s project does not endanger either the student or those he or she comes into contact with. This chapter provides an introduction to the practice of ethics in social research. It provides an outline of basic ethical practice, before discussing the nature and purpose of ethical review boards. It demonstrates how ethical rules of thumb are often more complicated when encountering them ‘in the field’. Finally, it explores how ethics also informs the process of writing up research.


Laurence Marquis and Mark Daku

This chapter studies ethics in research. Ethics play an important role in scientific inquiry, beyond cases of plagiarism, fraud, and misconduct. Importantly, there is a difference between ethical research and ethical researchers. While principles of ethics in research stem mostly from the biomedical field, they have also been adapted to apply to the social sciences. These principles are generally addressed through three common principles: voluntary participation, informed consent, and confidentiality. Researchers themselves must be wary of a number of other factors that can influence their project and role, such as the supervision of students, or other situations where there is a relationship of authority. Similarly, researchers must be careful not to make misrepresentations to subjects about the project or the related risks, or fail to disclose any conflict of interest. Researchers must take steps to ensure their neutrality so that no preconceptions or personal bias can risk influencing the results or subjects. The chapter then looks at ethics review boards and the emergent ethical issues.


Paul Patton

This chapter examines Michel Foucault's approach to the history of systems of thought, which relied upon a distinctive concept of discourse he defined in terms of rules governing the production of statements in a given empirical field at a given time. The study of these rules formed the basis of Foucault's archaeology of knowledge. The chapter first considers Foucault's conception of philosophy as the critique of the present before explaining how his criticism combined archaeological and genealogical methods of writing history and operated along three distinct methodological axes corresponding to knowledge, power, and ethics. It then describes Foucault's archaeological approach to the study of systems of thought or discourse, along with his historical approach to truth. It also discusses Foucault's theory of freedom, his views on the nature and tasks of government, and his ideas about subjectivity in relation to care for the self.


Inder S. Marwah

This chapter assesses John Stuart Mill’s political philosophy, focusing on two particular features of his thought. First is Mill’s relation to the liberal political tradition. Second are his writings on race, gender, and empire, which have in recent years come into greater prominence. The chapter begins by highlighting Mill’s contributions to liberal political theory and utilitarian ethics, the two traditions of thought with which he’s most commonly associated. It then examines his views on government and democracy. The chapter also considers Mill’s views on human diversity and difference, showing how his treatments of race, empire, and gender intersect with his liberalism. Finally, it reflects on what we might think about his political philosophy in light of his imperialist entanglements.


Caroline Williams

This chapter focuses on the major works of Baruch Spinoza as they impact upon politics, particularly the posthumously published Ethics (1677). This broadly philosophical work, composed over fifteen years, opens up many important ideas that are further developed in Spinoza’s two explicitly political works, Theologico-Political Treatise (1670) and the unfinished Political Treatise. The chapter explores some of the key ideas and concepts to be found in Ethics, including the concepts of nature, individuality, mind and body, imagination, and freedom. It then deepens the political ground of these concepts by addressing power and democracy. The chapter also advances Spinoza’s idea of the multitude and considers some of the political exclusions present in his political philosophy. While one may find limits in the perception of political equality, gender, and race in his works, Spinoza’s analysis of the relationship between the human condition and the natural world remains deeply prescient for many radical political thinkers reflecting on such themes today.


This chapter discusses the correlation between ethics and global politics. It starts with a myth suggesting that power politics can be conducted without considering morality, especially following the rise of the modern state system. Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince (1532) has served as the ultimate guidebook for leaders and students of politics as it insinuates that European polities’ moral foundations might not be a proper basis for establishing well-run kingdoms and principalities. The chapter then looks at three key traditions of European Enlightenment thought which form the basis of much of the ethical and moral thinking we see at play in contemporary articulations of the good in political decision-making: deontology, utilitarianism, and contractualism. It also examines Confucianism, Ubuntu, and Sumak Kawsay to highlight the various ethical voices and traditions which have sustained political communities across the globe.


Aggie Hirst, Diego de Merich, Joe Hoover, and Roberto Roccu

Global Politics: Myths and Mysteries provides an introduction to key concepts in international relations, aiming to expose the myths of the discipline. The text starts off with an introduction to the topic asking the question: what exactly is myth-making? The chapters then look at key concepts in turn, starting with politics and power. They move on to examine ethics, violence, and law. Next the text analyses the world of finance with a chapter on money. Empire is the subject of the chapter that follows. The last two chapters cover capitalism and state. Finally, the text concludes and considers the notion of change as it relates to global politics.