Tuesday, March 20, 2012

En route

For the third time, I find myself returning to the Western Political Science Association’s annual meeting. This year the meeting is in Portland and I will present one paper on my own called “The post-Concorde world and the risk of planetary entrapment” and one paper together with my girlfriend with the title “Aspirational cosmopolitanism: Authenticity, historical memory, and the prospects for moral progress”.

Taking the train out to the airport and seeing all the people from around the world who had been visiting Korea, I was again reminded of the founding mission of The Economist: “to take part in a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress”. Although written 150 years ago, the same definitely holds true today.

We have it within our reach to build a prosperous global society, to finally end poverty and to lay the foundation for a bright cosmic future. Yet, as I write in my conference paper, “exclusively dependent on ourselves with no external source of normativity, it is not surprising that we have shrugged our responsibility for the future and come to doubt our abilities”. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly obvious that that kind of ambivalence is no longer a responsible option for the future.

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