Ethics and International Relations

  • Roberto Toscano

Why does a diplomat who has been in this profession for 40 years turn to a theme such as ethics and international relations? The real reason is that I think that any field of human activity has an ethical dimension.

The circle of identification is drawn in different ways. An extreme individualist draws the circle around him or herself. Then there is something that has been defined by
sociologists as an ‘amoral familism’. An American sociologist, Banfield, went to Southern Italy in the early 1950s and studied the local population. He was really surprised because he saw people who within the family were responsible, good and humane, but when they crossed the threshold of their home, they were capable of doing just about anything for the good of the family. But you can add many different dimensions. How about racism: my race versus the other races? How about nationalism: my nation versus the other nations? How about not religion, but religious fundamentalism? It means that humans have the tendency to draw the circle of recognition and moral responsibility in different ways. Those who are not included in that circle are fair game.
The following is the summary of a talk by His Excellency Roberto Toscano, Ambassador of Italy to India, at the Observer Research Foundation in May 2009.

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