“Reimagining a global ethic” is a project worthy of Andrew Carnegie and of the Carnegie Council's upcoming commemoration of his founding gift in 1914. As a collaborative research project stretching forward over the next three years, it ought to be integrative and reconciliatory: that is, it must try to understand the globalization of ethics that has accompanied the globalization of commerce and communications and to figure out what ethical values human beings share across all our differences of race, religion, ethnicity, national identity, and material wealth. When human beings do disagree morally, the search for a global ethic becomes an attempt to elucidate by analysis what exactly people are disagreeing about, so that, after arguing out our differences, we can either agree to disagree or work together to find common ground. Finding common ground on large ethical matters and understanding more deeply why, in some instances, we remain at odds with each other is worthwhile in itself, but it might also further Andrew Carnegie's original goal in founding the Council, which was to reduce the amount of conflict and violence in the world.
The Honourable Michael Ignatieff is a former Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and currently a Senior Resident at Massey College, University of Toronto. He is the author of, among other works, The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror (2004), Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry (2001), Isaiah Berlin: A Life (1998), and The Needs of Strangers (1984). His essays have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Financial Times, Harper's Magazine, Dissent, and many other journals and publications. email@example.com