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International Third World Studies Journal and Review



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In the political arena, every nation is considered to be sovereign. That is, what happens within the legitimate borders of a nation, what docs not affect other nations, is to be decided by the people of that nation or the government of' that nation and no one else. If a nation wants to centralize economic decisions, that is its business. If a nation wants a free market economy, no other nation can interfere. If a nation wants to be represented by a new form of government, it has the right to change governments. And so on.

Outside or the political arena, however, in the arena of ethics. can we say that the ethics of each nation is sovereign in the same way that its political arrangements arc sovereign? Are the moral rules o f each nation to be decided by the people of that nation and no one else? Is it wrong for any other nation to intervene in the ethical life of a nation that has selected its own set of ethical rules? Or, docs ethics go beyond political boundaries·? If it is right for some, is it not right for everyone? Aren't there some kinds of behavior that we can condemn from an ethical point of view. even if they have been selected by the people of some other nation?

All of these questions arc being raised as the morality or nations becomes widely known and the ethical behavior of a nation can be known around the world instantaneously. The more we know about the ethics of nations, the more frequently such questions arc likely to arise, leaving us with the question or how we arc to understand ethics and the sovereignty of nations. In the following. we try to make a contribution to that understanding.