Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

A Future Global Ethics: Peter Singer's View of One World

Peter Madsen.

Peter Singer, the well-known Australian applied ethicist, has always been controversial given his outspoken views. In his latest book titled "One World," he offers another contentious proposal. He describes and calls for a "new global ethics" that is based upon his utilitarian leanings. This presentation discusses and critiques Singer's views in this book, especially those that deal with the idea of international corporate social responsibility and the field of global business ethics.
In some of his earlier works, Singer had claimed that our era is characterized by the collapse of traditional Western ethics all around us from the pressures of new medical dilemmas and our transition into a time when the sanctity of life is held in a different regard than in previous times. Singer argued then, as he does now, that such times call for a “new” ethics.
In making this call, Singer has need to visit such topics as globalization, the ethics of the World Trade Association, environmental responsibility and the idea of a world government. Each of these will play a role in demonstrating the need for a new future ethics.
The obligations of this new ethics are detailed and reviewed and the conclusion of this presentation will be that the utilitarian underpinnings upon which Singer's new ethics rely are not solid enough to support his hope for "one world." In its place, the presenter offers a more refined proposal that places the obligation of a future new ethics not upon a utilitarian view of the individual, but upon a deontological understanding of multinational corporate enterprises.


Peter Madsen  (United States)
Associate Teaching Professor and Executive Director
Department of Philosophy and Center for the Advancement of Applied Ethics
Carnegie Mellon University

Dr. Peter Madsen is an award-winning educator, trainer, writer and producer of educational media in the field of applied ethics. He is executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Applied Ethics at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Madsen teaches management ethics courses at the Heinz School. He also teaches courses in business, professional, environmental and computer ethics in the Department of Philosophy. He was the 1990 Emil Limbach Teaching Excellence Award winner at the Heinz School.

  • Ethics
  • Global ethics
  • Applied ethics
  • Business ethics
  • International corporate social Responsibility
  • Multinational corporate enterprises
  • Utilitarianism
  • Obligations to the less fortunate
  • The ethics of globalization
  • One world
Person as Subject
  • Singer, Peter

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)