What's wrong with imperialism?

Social Philosophy and Policy 23 (1):153-166 (2006)
Imperialism is thought to be wrong by virtually everyone today. The consensus may be correct. However, there may be a few good things to be said for empire. More importantly for political philosophy, empires are not harder to justify or legitimate than states, or so I argue. The bad press that empires receive seems due to a methodological suspect comparison of nasty empires to nice states. When nice empires are considered they do not fare much worse than (nice) states. I suggest that empires can have the same weak kind of legitimacy that states have and that both lack fuller or stronger legitimacy. a Footnotesa An earlier version of this essay was presented at James Madison University and discussed at a workshop of the Committee for Politics, Philosophy, and Public Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park. I am grateful to members of both audiences for critical questions and comments, in particular to John Brown, Farid Dhanji, Douglas Grob, Peter Levine, Jerry Segal, and Karol Soltan (others are thanked in the notes). Gratitude is also owed to Jose Idler-Acosta, David Lefkowitz, and Ellen Paul for helpful written comments.
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