Commonsense morality and the consequentialist ethics of humanitarian intervention

Journal of Military Ethics 4 (3):168-182 (2005)
Abstract
Abstract Finding a moral justification for humanitarian intervention has been the objective of a great deal of academic inquiry in recent years. Most of these treatments, however, make certain arguments or assumptions about the morality of humanitarian intervention without fully exploring their precise philosophical underpinnings, which has led to an increasingly disjointed body of literature. The purpose of this essay, therefore, is to suggest that the conventional arguments and assumptions made about the morality of humanitarian intervention can be encompassed in what is essentially a consequentialist framework. After a brief examination of consequentialist ethics, this essay reveals a number of morally relevant factors concerning humanitarian intervention, wherein I suggest that the general consensus in the literature on these factors constitutes ?commonsense morality?. In doing so, I argue that consequentialism as a theory of the right provides the best fit with commonsense morality on humanitarian intervention. This is important not only to reveal the precise philosophical underpinnings of the debate, but also to bring ethical, prudential and political considerations together in a coherent ethical discourse
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