Economic globalization might be understood as a move in the direction of integrating the economies of the world through a fundamental liberalization of markets and free trade. Importantly, the drive-wheel of this move is said to be transnational corporations, with some structural support from multilateral institutions like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization. Not surprisingly, such a pattern has attracted attention in more ways than one. Staunch supporters of a global context of free markets on the one hand tend to see it as a panacea for the world’s social and economic problems. Committed critics on the other hand tend to overlook the fact that economic globalization like the globalization of computer technology may have some benefits. In other words, a polarized position on the issue will not contribute much to social understanding and progress. This is not to say that there are not thinkers who attempt to take a middle passage on the issue. I argue that there needs to be a liberation of thought from ideological centering so that we may meaningfully find ways to reap the benefits of globalization as a global society and circumvent its harms. As corporations are the drive-wheel of globalization, there appears to be practical value in attempting to enshrine an enforced global corporate ethics that can constrain the practices of corporations to respect certain fundamental elements of what philosopher Martha Nussbaum calls the human form of life, as non-negotiable items – notably, basic human needs. I argue for a subset of a general minimal ethics comprised of basic human rights to constrain the practices of corporations in the interest of protecting basic human needs. Such an ethics can be pragmatically justified as a concrete interpretation of certain articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and as a starting point to address the basic concerns raised by both poles.
|Keywords:||Globalization, Free Market, Liberalization, Basic Rights, Human Rights, Basic Needs, Human Needs|
Assistant Professor, Criminology and Philosophy, Wilfrid Laurier University - Brantford Campus (Laurier Brantford), Brantford, Ontario, Canada
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