Monday, March 27, 2006
Is Korea really boot-shaped?
You can decide for yourself whether a reunited Koreas would really be boot-shaped, like Italy. Whether the claim is convincing or not, it's a nice reminder of problems with arguments about universalisation in ethics. As my colleague Simon Burgess reminded us at a seminar this evening, even an absurd political maxim such as "Advance the interests of boot-shaped countries!" is universalisable.
Simon quoted from one of my favourite books, Mackie's Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong. Mackie points out that patriots in the past have been known to praise their countries for equally bizarre characteristics. Why shouldn't a patriotic Italian advance a claim for his/her country on this basis, as long as he or she is prepared to universalise it to other countries with the same characteristic, such as a unified Korea?