Philosophy Faculty Publications


Science or Ethics of Development?

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 1991

Publication Source

International Journal of Applied Philosophy


The fact that concerning the topic of development and underdevelopment, philosophy has until now said little, whereas such theoretical disciplines as economics, sociology, and anthropology, especially through the theory of modernization, have claimed the topic as their proper domain, may lead one to think that there is indeed such a thing as a science of development. For this science to be possible, there is, however, one basic epistemological condition, namely the very possibility of conceptualizing the issues of development, directly or indirectly, through an underlying deterministic drive.

Precisely, it is on this question that everything is most wanting. Neither the persistence of underdevelopment, nor the conflicts between the neo-Marxist thinking and modernization school, far less the contradictory solutions proposed by each school, would suggest, in any promising way, that scholars are about to grasp the purported determinism. What if this determinism does not exist?

If therefore the alleged determinism is more than questionable, and yet there is still the necessity of positing an impelling force, may it not be that we are dealing with a propelling though not palpable instance, that is to say with something like an oughtness? The basic aim of this study is to investigate this question, not so much with the purpose of rejecting all scientific endeavour as with that of delineating the aspects of development which can lend themselves to scientific treatment.

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Peer Reviewed