Reclaiming Value in International Development
The Moral Dimensions of Development Policy and Practice in Poor Countries
by Chloe Schwenke
December 2008, 188pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-36332-0
$75, £58, 66€, A103
Paperback: 978-0-313-36334-4
$35, £27, 31€, A48
eBook Available: 978-0-313-36333-7
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Reclaiming Value in International Development is the first work to bridge the theoretical and practical divide between ethics and development from the perspective of a veteran development practitioner who is also a trained ethicist.

International development has complex unintended effects on the realities of equity, rights, governance, and conflict in poor countries. Yet the myriad moral questions and quandaries encountered at every turn by development policymakers and practitioners are seldom thought about or articulated in a rigorous fashion. Instead, development specialists are trained to focus on the technocratic aspects of economic aid delivery and to disregard the moral issues raised by the adverse collateral consequences of aid programs for many people, communities, institutions, and environments in the developing countries. Reclaiming Value in International Development is the first book to bridge the divide between ethics and development from the perspective of a seasoned development practitioner who is also a trained ethicist.

Schwenke formally enlarges the concept of development to include its moral dimension, to denote beneficial change that alleviates human misery and environmental degradation in poor countries and reinforces universal ethical norms such as human dignity, essential freedoms, social justice, peace, civic virtue, human flourishing, the common good, gender equality, safety and security, and participation and inclusion. She applies this ethically expanded concept to nine key topics in international development: education, leadership, procurement, food security, conflict, urbanization, gender identity and sexual orientation, deliberative participation, and the measurement of ethical performance. Throughout the book, the author draws on her thirty years of experience as a development practitioner in thirty poor countries around the world to give vivid real-life illustrations of the classic moral dilemmas in development ethics and to show how moral reasoning can clarify and resolve them.


"Diverse thinkers such as Aristotle, Adam Smith, Karl Polanyi, and Amartya Sen have long debated the place of ethics and values in development. Central to these debates is the perennial contest between materialism and spiritualism, efficiency and equity. Every generation has the responsibility to negotiate these tensions, finding answers that conduce to prevailing resources, balance of societal power, and leadership. Chloe Schwenke's book revisits these debates in a carefully written account that draws from her rich experiences as a development practitioner in Africa. She convincingly contends, in the tradition of Adam Smith, that development ought to be a moral science, informed by the search for broad-based consensus about resource distribution. Animated by similar concerns that informed Robert Klitgaard's Tropical Gangsters, Reclaiming Value in International Development sheds light on contemporary development problems that resonate beyond Africa."—Gilbert Khadiagala, Professor of International Relations, University of the Witwatersrand

"Chloe Schwenke presents the issues of ethics and international development from multiple perspectives, arising from her background and experience in development practice and philosophical ethics, in the South as well as in the North. The resulting portrayal of ethical issues and dilemmas facing international development practice is at once clear, vivid, and compelling."—Jay Drydyk, President of the International Development Ethics Association, Chair of the Department of Philosophy, Carleton University

"At a time of chaos in international financial markets, environmental degradation, and endemic poverty and repression in large swaths of the world, it is difficult to dispute the simple and powerful idea that animates this highly readable book: that morality and ethical considerations must be at the core of development efforts. Development thinkers and doers will benefit enormously from this insightful explication of the centrality of ethics and civic virtue in building a more humane, prosperous and sustainable world."—Robert Herman, Director of Programs, Freedom House
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