Joseph S. Nye on Morality in Foreign Policy

Date(s) - 01/14/20
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm

Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Hosted by
Chicago Council

Joseph S. Nye on Morality in Foreign Policy

Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Joseph S. Nye Jr., University Distinguished Service Professor and former Dean, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Moderated by Juliet Sorensen.

Presidents and their foreign policies are constantly subjected to moral judgements, but to what extent do ethical considerations actually guide policymaking? To answer this question, renowned international relations scholar Joseph S. Nye assessed the foreign policies of each United States president from FDR to Trump on three ethical dimensions—their intentions, the means they used, and the consequences of their decision—and joins Juliet Sorensen for a conversation on his findings. What ethical quandaries did these presidents face, and could the reemergence of a great power rivalry and a host of complex, transnational threats complicate these questions for whoever wins the 2020 election?

Copies of Joseph S. Nye Jr.’s latest book, Do Morals Matter? Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump will be available for purchase and signing from the Book Cellar.


Joseph S. Nye, Jr., is University Distinguished Service Professor and former Dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. From 1977-1979, he was a deputy Undersecretary of State and chaired the National Security Council Group on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. From 1993-1994, he chaired the National Intelligence Council which prepares intelligence estimates for the president, and from 1994-1995 served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. Nye has published 14 academic books, a novel, and more than 150 articles in professional and policy journals, and in 2008, a poll of 2,700 international relations scholars listed him as the most influential scholar on US foreign policy. He received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, and earned a PhD in from Harvard University.