Humanitarian intervention - eight theories

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Steven P. Lee


Much has been written about the ethics of humanitarian intervention in the past fifteen years. In this paper I discuss a variety of justifications that have been proposed (in fact, seven theories of justification), finding difficulties with each of them, and then I offer a theory of justification of my own. My approach to justification will differ from most of the earlier accounts in two ways. First, I begin the discussion of justification at a different point. Second, I seek to expand the traditional discussion of humanitarian intervention to cover an area not usually addressed, namely, the question of the scope of justified humanitarian intervention. If humanitarian intervention is sometimes justified, precisely when is it justified? This is no merely academic question, given the belated appeal to humanitarian intervention on the part of those scrambling to provide a public justification of the war in Iraq.


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How to Cite
Lee, Steven P. 2010. “Humanitarian Intervention - Eight Theories”. Diametros, no. 23 (March):22-43.
Special topic – The Ethics of War
Author Biography

Steven P. Lee

Steven P. Lee Hobart and William Smith Colleges
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