Global Bioethics and Global Education

  • Solomon Benatar
Part of the Advancing Global Bioethics book series (AGBIO, volume 10)


A new context for ethics and ethics education is evident in a rapidly changing world and our threatened planet. The current focus on considerations of inter-personal ethics within an anthropocentric perspective on life should be extended to embrace considerations of global and ecological ethics within an eco-centric perspective on global and planetary health. The pathway to understanding and adapting to this new context includes promoting shifts in life styles from selfish hyper-individualism and wasteful consumerism towards cautious use of limited resources within an increasingly interdependent world in which the equal moral worth of all and sustainability are valued. Critical scholarly approaches to global politics and to the global political economy could facilitate such change and encourage iterative interactive processes instead of seeking conclusive definitive ‘scientific’ solutions to all problems. Hopefully this shift in perspective could be achieved firstly through sensitization to new and increasingly challenging ethical dilemmas, and then by encouraging rational thinking and action based on global and ecological considerations rather than on false economic dogma and the distorted workings of a market civilization. Moving ahead with these activities must begin with promotion of education, learning and self-reflection to foster the widespread development of a global state of mind. Such a shift would require an expanded ethical discourse, with consideration of ethical dilemmas beyond human inter-personal relationships. These should include intra-institutional and inter-institutional relationships, as well as relational ethics between nations in a post-Westphalian world, and between humans and nature in an era now called the Anthropocene, to ensure survival on a planet undergoing entropy.

The adverse effects of intense competition could be reduced by encouraging greater cooperation, linking security issues to global health and social justice issues, and using inspirational narratives and examples of moral imagination/moral leadership. These educational programs should be initiated in schools and become mandatory for all first-year College and University students. Such an agenda is feasible given human ingenuity, determination, resilience and adequate resources, but will also require political and social will as its drivers.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Dalla Lana School of Public HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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