Denis Goulet (1931-2006) was a pioneer of human development theory and a founder of work on ‘development ethics’ as a self-conscious field that treats the ethical and value questions posed by development theory, planning, and practice. The paper looks at aspects of Goulet’s work in relation to four issues concerning this project of development ethics—scope, methodology, roles, and organisational format and identity. It compares his views with subsequent trends in the field and suggests lessons for work on human development. While his definition of the scope of development ethics remains serviceable, his methodology of intense immersion by a ‘development ethicist’ in each context under examination was rewarding but limited by the time and skills it requires and a relative disconnection from communicable theory. He wrote profoundly about ethics’ possible lines of influence, including through incorporation in methods, movements and education, but his own ideas wait to be sufficiently incorporated. He proposed development ethics as a new (sub)discipline, yet the immersion in particular contexts and their routine practices that is required for understanding and influence must be by people who remain close to specific disciplinary and professional backgrounds. Development ethics has to be, he eventually came to accept, not a distinct (sub)discipline but an interdisciplinary field.

Additional Metadata
Keywords development ethics, Denis Goulet, human development, interdisciplinarity
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1080/14649880802236755, hdl.handle.net/1765/50689
Series ISS Staff Group 2: States, Societies and World Development
Journal Journal of human development
Gasper, D.R. (2008). Denis Goulet and the Project of Development Ethics: Choices in Methodology, Focus and Organization. Journal of human development, 9(3), 453–474. doi:10.1080/14649880802236755