Debating Humanitarian Intervention

Debating Humanitarian Intervention : Should We Try to Save Strangers?

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When foreign powers attack civilians, other countries face an impossible dilemma. Two courses of action emerge: either to retaliate against an abusive government on behalf of its victims, or to remain spectators. Either course offers its own perils: the former, lost lives and resources without certainty of restoring peace or preventing worse problems from proliferating; the latter, cold spectatorship that leaves a country at the mercy of corrupt rulers or to

Philosophers Fernando Teson and Bas van der Vossen offer contrasting views of humanitarian intervention, defining it as either war aimed at ending tyranny, or as violence. The authors employ the tools of impartial modern analytic philosophy, particularly just war theory, to substantiate their claims. According to Teson, a humanitarian intervention has the same just cause as a justified revolution: ending tyranny. He analyzes the different kinds of just cause and whether or not an
intervener may pursue other justified causes. For Teson, the permissibility of humanitarian intervention is almost exclusively determined by the rules of proportionality. Bas van der Vossen, by contrast, holds that military intervention is morally impermissible in almost all cases. Justified interventions, Van der
Vossen argues, must have high ex ante chance of success. Analyzing the history and prospects of intervention shows that they almost never do.

Teson and van der Vossen refer to concrete cases, and weigh the consequences of continued or future intervention in Syria, Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Iraq, Lybia and Egypt. By placing two philosophers in dialogue, Debating Humanitarian Intervention is not constrained by a single, unifying solution to the exclusion of all others. Rather, it considers many conceivable actions as judged by analytic philosophy, leaving the reader equipped to make her own, informed judgments.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 142 x 210 x 17mm | 328g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0190202912
  • 9780190202910
  • 80,657

Table of contents

Fernando Teson and Bas van der Vossen

Part I: A defense of humanitarian intervention Fernando Teson
1. Humanitarian intervention as defense of persons
2. Just cause in humanitarian intervention
3. Intervention and revolution: the equivalence thesis
4. Proportionality in humanitarian intervention
5. Further issues in humanitarian intervention
APPENDIX: The Iraq war

Part II: Humanitarian non-intervention Bas van der Vossen
6. A presumption against intervention
7. Between internal and external threats
8. Why sovereignty (still) matters
9. The success condition
10. Justice ex post or ex ante?
11. Three structural problems
12. Looking for exceptions
13. Humanitarian non-intervention
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Review quote

the book is an excellent contribution in terms of bringing together different arguments on intervention, the moral dilemma involved and the implicit political logic...the book...presents a much more condensed and balanced overview. It would be of great help to students and researchers working on issues pertaining to sovereignty, international justice, intervention and non-intervention to find multiple sources in a single book. * Abhishek Choudhary, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Human Rights Review * this book provides an important overview of the humanitarian intervention debate and forces the reader to rethink both the conditions under which humanitarian intervention can be justified, as well as the limitations of military responses in addressing humanitarian need. As a result, this book will be of interest to both academics and students wishing to challenge their own underlying assumptions about humanitarian intervention, on either side of this long-running
debate. * Garrett Wallace Brown and Samuel Jarvis, E-International Relations * The authors of this superb book have carefully identified the central moral questions raised by humanitarian intervention, such as whether respect for state sovereignty has priority over the defense of individual human rights, whether intervention is more difficult to justify than revolution, whether justification depends on the evidence at the time of action or on the actual outcome, and so on. On these and other issues, they argue for opposing views. The result
is a lively, accessible, and comprehensive discussion of both the morality of humanitarian intervention and what the law that governs intervention ought to be. * Jeff McMahan, White's Professor of Moral Philosophy, University of Oxford * Fernando Teson and Bas van der Vossen provide thoughtful and perceptive reflections on the ethics of intervention. Their disagreements are illuminating and strike at the heart of the philosophical debates over the permissibility of humanitarian intervention and, more broadly, the ethics of war. I highly recommend this book for both scholars and students of the ethics of intervention. * James Pattison, Professor of Politics, University of Manchester *
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About Fernando Teson

Fernando R. Teson is the Tobias Simon Eminent Scholar at Florida State University College of Law. He is the author, inter alia, of Justice at a Distance: Extending Freedom Globally (Cambridge University Press, 2015) [with Loren Lomasky] and Humanitarian Intervention: An Inquiry into Law and Morality , 3rd ed. (Transnational Publishers 2005), and dozens of articles in specialized journals.

Bas van der Vossen is Associate Professor of Philosophy in the Smith Institute of Political Economy and Philosophy and the Philosophy Department at Chapman University. His research focuses on questions in political philosophy, and he is an Associate Editor of the journal Social Philosophy and Policy.
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