The Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre for Politics, Philosophy and Law presents a book launch with Professor Michael Ignatieff's new book 'The Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World'.
About the Book:
What moral values do human beings hold in common? As globalization draws us together economically, are our values converging or diverging? In particular, are human rights becoming a global ethic? These were the questions that led Michael Ignatieff to embark on a three-year, eight-nation journey in search of answers. The Ordinary Virtues presents Ignatieff’s discoveries and his interpretation of what globalization—and resistance to it—is doing to our conscience and our moral understanding.
Through dialogues with favela dwellers in Brazil, South Africans and Zimbabweans living in shacks, Japanese farmers, gang leaders in Los Angeles, and monks in Myanmar, Ignatieff found that while human rights may be the language of states and liberal elites, the moral language that resonates with most people is that of everyday virtues: tolerance, forgiveness, trust, and resilience. These ordinary virtues are the moral operating system in global cities and obscure shantytowns alike, the glue that makes the multicultural experiment work. Ignatieff seeks to understand the moral structure and psychology of these core values, which privilege the local over the universal, and citizens’ claims over those of strangers.
Ordinary virtues, he concludes, are antitheoretical and anti-ideological. They can be cheerfully inconsistent. When order breaks down and conflicts break out, they are easily exploited for a politics of fear and exclusion—reserved for one’s own group and denied to others. But they are also the key to healing, reconciliation, and solidarity on both a local and a global scale.
Michael Ignatieff recently accepted the new post as President and Rector at the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary. Prior to CEU, he was Edward R. Murrow Professor of Practice at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics & Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School.
Born in Canada, educated at the University of Toronto and Harvard, Michael Ignatieff is a university professor, writer and former politician. He holds a doctorate in history from Harvard University and has held academic posts at the University of British Columbia, Cambridge University, the University of Toronto, the London School of Economics and Harvard University, where he was Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy between 2000 and 2005.
His major publications are The Needs of Strangers (1984), Scar Tissue (1992), Isaiah Berlin (1998), The Rights Revolution (2000), Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry (2001), The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror (2004), and Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics (2013).
Between 2006 and 2011, he served as an MP in the Parliament of Canada and then as Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and Leader of the Official Opposition. He is a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and holds eleven honorary degrees.
He also currently serves as Centennial Chair at the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs in New York.