Self-determination, wellbeing, and threats of harm

Journal of Applied Philosophy 25 (2):145–158 (2008)
David Rodin argues that the right of national-defence as conceived in international law cannot be grounded in the end of defending the lives of individuals. Firstly, having this end is not necessary because there is a right of defence against an invasion that threatens no lives. However, in this context we are to understand that 'defending lives' includes defending against certain non-lethal threats. I will argue that threats to national-self determination and self-government are significant non-lethal threats to the wellbeing of individuals that can justify lethal defensive force. Therefore the end of defending individuals can ground a right of national-defence against a 'bloodless invasion'. Secondly, Rodin argues that defending lives is not a sufficient condition for military action to be national self-defence, because humanitarian intervention is military action to defend individuals, and such action is in deep tension with national self-defence. I will argue that a reductive account, grounded in claims of need and threats of harm, can justify principles of both intervention and non-intervention on the same grounds; that is, protecting the wellbeing of individuals.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1468-5930.2008.00396.x
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