Towards a sociology of global morals with an ‘emancipatory intent’
Numerous thinkers have denied that the idea of shared humanity can provide the philosophical foundations for a cosmopolitan ethic, and many have rejected the belief that appeals to humanity will ever compete with the emotional attachments and the established norms of specific communities in determining human conduct.2 But the idea that common humanity has profound ethical significance is not entirely friendless in recent moral and political theory. Gaita (2002) has drawn on Simone Weil’s writings to defend an ethic of human concerns that is, in some respects, more fundamental than the social moralities that usually shape individual and group behaviour. The central aim of this chapter is to link this idea with the notion of a sociology of global morals with an emancipatory intent. The principal objective is to build on previous endeavours to construct a distinctive mode of comparative sociological analysis that examines the extent to which basic considerations of humanity have not only influenced the conduct of international relations in different historical eras but may yet acquire a central role in bringing unprecedented levels of global connectedness under collective moral and political control.