Pluriversality and Care: Rethinking Global Ethics

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  • A perennial debate in the field of Global Ethics revolves around the possibility of a universalist ethics, and contestations over the nature - and significance - of difference (be it economic, cultural, political, etc.) for moral deliberation. Alongside, but heretofore not explored in depth by, the Global Ethics literature is a growing literature (coming from decolonial studies and the 'ontological turn' in anthropology) on multiple ways of being-in and seeing the world, described by the language of the 'pluriverse' (de la Cadena 2015; Mignolo 2013). This scholarship illuminates not only the different ontologies or worlds that exist globally, but also the political processes through which these worlds come into contact, conflict, and in many ways, co-constitute each other. In this way, while the pluriversal scholarship points to ontological difference, it also emphasizes the (partial) connections (Strathern 2004) between worlds. This dissertation begins with the concept of the pluriverse - the idea that instead of a single world with different paradigms, we have a matrix of multiple yet connected worlds - and investigates the ways in which this notion necessitates a rethinking of the field of Global Ethics as it has been conceived thus far. In particular, I consider how the field can reorient itself towards building an ethics for the pluriverse, where differences are deep and pervasive, i.e., ontological. Ultimately, drawing upon a feminist ethics of care, I argue that a pluriversal ethics can fruitfully be thought of as an ethics of vulnerability and precarity. The ethics of care is premised on a relational social ontology, which sees ethics as a problem of responsibilities in relations, and which foregrounds the moral saliency of our mutual vulnerability (including the vulnerability of moral judgement) that stems from our relationality. In so doing, the ethics of care reconceptualizes moral dilemmas along relational lines. My argument is that this line of thinking, when combined with a conceptual distinction between vulnerability and precarity (where precarity refers to intensified vulnerability that results from unequal relations of power), provides a useful meta-theoretical orientation from which to begin building a pluriversal ethics.

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  • Copyright © 2020 the author(s). Theses may be used for non-commercial research, educational, or related academic purposes only. Such uses include personal study, research, scholarship, and teaching. Theses may only be shared by linking to Carleton University Institutional Repository and no part may be used without proper attribution to the author. No part may be used for commercial purposes directly or indirectly via a for-profit platform; no adaptation or derivative works are permitted without consent from the copyright owner.
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  • 2020


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