New York - Barcelona

Globalization and the Common Good

Charlottesville, Virginia | April 19-21, 2012

While globalization has generated a profound centripetal concern with the unity of human kind, it has simultaneously increased an acute centrifugal experience with the innumerable differences that divide us.

It is commonly acknowledged that globalization has brought about greater human interconnectedness and that it has done so with paradoxical effect. While globalization has generated a profound centripetal concern with the unity of human kind, it has simultaneously increased an acute centrifugal experience with the innumerable differences that divide us.

This meeting gathered experts from philosophy, ethics, law, global affairs and sociology who share the idea that globalization makes reconsideration of the idea of the common good both valuable and necessary.  If for no other reason, advocacy for global “goods” and the effective management of global “bads” is recurrently made in the name of common humanity or a shared planet, often as if there were some more robust and demanding ideal at work.  Therefore, whatever one thinks of its possibilities or liabilities, the idea of a common good requires that we pay attention to the variety of cultural and ideological perspectives that support it and the institutions that strive to embody it.


Candid shots from the latest meeting at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture

Posted by Social Trends Institute on Friday, May 11, 2012


John Haldane - University of St. Andrews

Walter Schweidler - Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt


Ann Brach - National Academy of Sciences
Talbot Brewer - University of Virginia 


Ahmed An-Na'im - Emory University
The Ends of Means of the Common Good: The Challenges of Imperialism and Religion

Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni - DePaul University College of Law
The Impact of Globalization on the Existing World Order

Michael Ignatieff - University of Toronto
Re-Imagining a Global Ethic

Richard Madsen - University of California, San Diego
Beyond the Clash of Civilizations: Seeking the Common Good Through East-West Dialogue

Christine Mahoney - University of Virginia
A Movement for Free Movement? Forced Migration and the Global Common Good

Jean Porter - University of Notre Dame 
The Common Good and Limits of Community: Ideals and Authority in Contemporary Life

Leif Wenar - King's College London
The Global Common Good and Norms of Counter-Power

Academic Leader & Moderator

Academic LeaderAna Marta González - University of Navarra
Moderator: Joshua J. Yates - University of Virginia

Principal Inquiries

What is the nature and structure of the common good in a globalized world?

  • How common is the common good? What serves as the foundation for this commonality? Is a natural law or Kantian approach feasible in such a global context?
  • How are we to think of a common good in the context of highly differentiated and fragmented societies?
  • What, if any, is the difference between a 'common' and a 'public' or 'global' good? Is the common good best thought out locally or globally? Who can legitimately take responsibility for defining the common good (e.g. local communities, states, and/or global institutions)?
  • Can we speak of a universal common good? Can we speak of a common good as good for the universe as a whole, and not only for human beings?

What kind of political structures or institutions might advance the common good in a global context?     


  • What would be the defining marks of such political institutions and what values ought they exhibit? How would we come to recognize these values as globally common?
  • Is it feasible to imagine that such institutions have some sort of power over national governments? What would be the limits, if any, of that power?
  • To what degree have such political institutions already been recognized and shaped (e.g. the United Nations and the Bretton Woods Institutions)? In which ways should they be improved?
  • Perhaps, most poignantly of all, are Western models of the common good, best summed up in the social welfare systems of Western European nations, still viable? Is the global integration of markets enough to make such a concern irrelevant?

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