The Ethics of Interdependence

Global Human Rights and Duties

In this powerful book, William F. Felice argues that a new range of human rights duties for individuals, nation states, and global institutions has emerged in our modern interconnected era. He investigates the compelling ideas of ethical interdependence and new global human rights duties in four case studies: mass incarceration in the United States, LGBT rights in Africa, women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, and environmental rights in China. Felice argues that in all four cases a “human-rights threshold” has been surpassed, and urgent action is needed to address unacceptable levels of human suffering. Beginning with a primer on how the international community through the United Nations has codified international human rights law, Felice explores the conflicts between rights, problems of compliance, and the difficulties that emerge when cultural and religious rights are privileged over the rights of individuals and groups. He shows that a robust normative framework of global governance and global citizenship is central to the actualization of human rights protection for all.

The Ethics of Interdependence brilliantly demonstrates why we should support human rights at home and abroad, framing the argument in lucid prose, enlivened by four fascinating case studies. I regard Felice’s book as necessary reading for both college students and citizens of conscience everywhere.”
– Richard Falk, Albert G. Milbank Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University

“William F. Felice’s book shines a clear light on American citizens’ moral interdependence with those around the world. It is an exemplary blend of dispassionate analysis and clear ethical commitment. Highly recommended.”
– Brent Pickett, University of Wyoming

“William F. Felice offers a challenging and eloquent argument for what he calls the ‘ethical interdependence of human rights and duties.’ In ways that reach more deeply into the issues than even the best textbooks, Felice develops four diverse case studies that illustrate how ethical principles can, and should, be applied to real-world problems. These cases—typically relegated to a paragraph or two as afterthoughts in larger books—illustrate, in impressively specific terms, the range of dilemmas and duties faced by all who profess to support universal human rights. This book would be a wonderful addition to courses on justice and human rights across the liberal-arts curriculum.”
– Michael J. Smith, Thomas C. Sorensen Professor, University of Virginia