Against Small Interventions On Sliding Scale Grounds

Philosophy in the Contemporary World 19 (2):26-38 (2012)
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Abstract

The 2011 NATO intervention in Libya has been hailed as a successful humanitarian intervention, beginning the implementation of the United Nations' Responsibility to Protect. Yet when the intervention pursued a mission of regime change which was not necessary to halt an imminent catastrophe, it became dubious on the strict reading of just cause that has been influential in just war theory. However, a recent trend suggests that minor uses of force with small cost to benefit ratios can be justified by a lower threshold of harm, so long as the cause is prima facie just or force is directed at an illegitimate illiberal state. This paper rejects these arguments by arguing that both deontological principle and utilitarian considerations support maintaining a strict catastrophic harm threshold for intervention

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