Constructing universal values? A practical approach

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This essay explores the possibility of universal values. Universal values do not exist as Platonic ideals nor do they exist in clearly defined lists of rules or laws. Rather, universal ethical claims are constructed through the actions of individual political leaders, scholars, and activists. This essay explores how such normative constructions take place. It uses an initiative undertaken by the UN Office of Drugs and Crime to further education around corruption as an example of how such universal values come into existence. The initiative focused on developing teaching materials for higher education. The essay focuses on two particular modules, both their content and the process by which they were written.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-277
Number of pages11
JournalEthics and International Affairs
Issue number3
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Oct 2020


  • Universal values
  • United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime
  • Aristotle
  • Mencius
  • Anticorruption
  • Tolerance
  • Pluralism


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