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Ethics and Development. “We do not seek to be angles, but simply, and fully, human beings”. Md. Reazul Haque Associate Professor Department of Development Studies University of Dhaka Email: What is development ethics and significance .

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ethics and development

Ethics and Development

“We do not seek to be angles, but simply, and fully, human beings”.

Md. ReazulHaque

Associate Professor

Department of Development Studies

University of Dhaka


what is development ethics and significance
What is development ethics and significance
  • Since the day of early Greek philosopher, ethics has meant the reflective study of what is good or bad in that part of human conduct for which men have some responsibility…. The dominant ethical stress is placed on the body of norms which regulates action. In ideal terms, ethics has several role to play:
    • It teaches men by making them critically aware of the moral significance of their choice. It is a pedagogue.
    • It commends good and forbids bad actions
    • It helps build institutions because, in the long run, norms need to be embodied visibly in rights, duties and laws.
  • Does economic growth promote greater justice, humanization, freedom?
  • .. Development ethics is useless it can be translated into public action.
  • The central question is: how can moral guidelines influence the decisions of those who hold power? [development ethics is eminently pedagogical, and in some cases it may successfully “educate” leaders holding effective influence].

Why issue of ethics is important? Why researcher should be so concern about ethics [and its social implications] in development? (e. g. Power imbalance between sex workers as a respondents vs researcher).

  • Kaplan (1994). The Politics of Location as Transnational Feminist Critical Practice. In I. Grewal & C. Kaplan (Eds), Scattered Hegemonies: Post Modernity and Translational Feminist Practices (pp. 137-152).Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press.
  • “Ethical evaluation is now widely as in all factors of development work; policy planning, the selection of priority programs and projects, criteria invoked for allotting resources, the determination of tolerable costs - political, human, environmental, cultural – to be borne in any implementation scheme, the monitoring of programs and projects, the evaluation of performance, the conduct of development research, the training of development agents of all types, and the pursuit of development studies in formal academic settings and other arenas of learning” (Goulet 2006).
  • Morally good or morally bad- who will decide and how? [Media and ethics – Cigarettes]
  • Development Projects – ecologically harmful, socially unjust, culturally destructive or psychologically alienating
  • “Development ethicists can be change agents when they encourage, facilitate and contribute to public discussion and decision-making concerning the ends and means of development” (Goulet 2006: xix).
theoretical aspects
Theoretical Aspects
  • Weltanschauung – World view - philosophy of life
  • Ethics – honors, human dignity as a core value (breast milk vs power milk and Multi national companies - globalization - effects of Advertisement).
  • Relative priority – what are need and what are wants.
  • “From Economism to Human Development – emphasizing basic needs. (e. g Sen – Development as Freedom) (Gasper 2004 in Troung and Gasper 2008). UNESCO is launching a project to contract an indicator of cultural development.
  • Development ethics and Women (Nussbaum & Glover 1995; Sen 1999).
  • Sex and Social Justice by Nussbaum

AnantaGiri – Development Ethics – self cultivation/ self development (tapashya)

Islam and ethics but in reality ?

Jakat – rich people have duties towards poor

The Month of Ramadan – food price increase and ethics

Giri “…the agents of development have not given much attention to developing themselves, their personalities and empathy, their ability to listen and co-operate” (Troung and Gasper 2008: 25).

He argues that “self development is the indispensable partner to notions of human development and societal development, and that civil society must be a nursery of the virtues” (Troung and Gasper 2008: 31).

Goulet - Outside change agents under certain circumstances play a positive role, authentic development is fundamentally self-development where it may be the individual or the group on whatever level – local, regional, national or global (p. xvii).

Aid- Dependency- Ethics

Reduction of subsidy on agriculture and ethics (external pressure)


Nancy Fraser’s Justice as “ redistribution and recognition”.

  • Nancy Fraser points out the key to equality is in the deconstruction of gender not in the reaffirmation of differences between men and women nor in the promotion of sameness between men and women but rather in the transformation of social relations and underlying policy paradigms (1995: 89-90).
in reality
In reality
  • Women are characterized families “Shock Absorbers”
  • Food security for the poorest group (e.g. women and children).
  • Quota system for Women in Parliament and Civil Service. Why?
  • “the World Bank and United Nations estimate that if four days’ worth of the annual military expenditure worldwide were diverted into education every year, the world provide the funding needed to achieve worldwide primary education by 2015” (CHS 2003, 117-8 in Troung and Gasper 2008: 17 ).
  • Vulnerable (e. g) children become commodities of transnational trafficking chain (Dottridge 2004 in Troung and Gasper 2008).
  • Sex trade as a development strategy (Sasen in Troung and Gasper 2008: 5).

Paulo Freire, Brazilian educator – “dialogical” mode of teaching [the main psychological point of Paulo makes in the need to re-educate teachers not to assume hierarchal definitions of their pedagogical role]. vs DU teachers, coaching centers, private universities and ethics (ideological honesty)?


Development ethics should enrich its conception of the human being. Vulnerability and capability are two sides of the same coin of being human.

  • Political Agency (importance of political leadership which remains in constant touch with its people… Issue of well-being… Bangladeshi political leaders?) [TajMahal, Reduction of subsidy on agriculture, Issue of Hartal] e.gGuniea – Bissau, Poland (Goulet 2006:66-70).
  • Social capital- Women’s Subordination – oppression- SWEA (the Self-Employed Women’s Association of Ahmedabad)- social change
  • Environment vs Development ethics in Bangladesh (e.g Channel i documentary)?
  • The ethics of development keeps urging planners, social engineers and scholars never to accommodate themselves to the world as it is. What development is all about is building a world as it ought to be.