Humanity's so far leaderless approach to dealing with rapidly accelerating climate change embodies a profoundly tragic catch-22 that has, among other twists and contradictions, transmuted justice into paralysis.
Can a soldier be held responsible for fighting in a war that is illegal or unjust? The chapters in the book both challenge and defend many deeply held assumptions: about the liability of soldiers for crimes of aggression, about the nature and justifiability of terrorism, about the relationship between law and morality.
Climate change is the most difficult threat facing humanity this century and negotiations to reach international agreement have so far foundered on deep issues of justice. Providing provocative and imaginative answers to key questions of justice, informed by political insight and scientific understanding, this book offers a new way forward.
In order to decide whether a comprehensive treaty covering all greenhouse gases is the best next step after UNCED, one needs to distinguish among the four questions about the international justice of such international arrangements: (1) What is a fair allocation of the costs of preventing the global warming that is still avoidable?; (2) What is a fair allocation of the costs of coping with the social consequences of the global warming that will not in fact be avoided?; (3) What (...) background allocation of wealth would allow international bargaining (about issues like 1 and 2) to be a fair process?; and (4) What is a fair allocation of emissions of greenhouse gases (over the long-term and during the transition to the long-term allocation)? In answering each question we must specify from whom any transfers should come and to whom any transfers should go. As the grounds for the answers we usually face a choice between fault-based principles and no-fault principles. (shrink)
Raz's method is as unusual, and as admirable, as the substance of his sometimes rather unfortunately labeled "perfectionist liberalism"—unfortunate because "it is not perfectionist in the more ordinary sense of the term" in that it recognizes that "imperfect ways of life may be the best which is possible for people" and "is strongly pluralistic", while understanding its fundamental value of well-being as the active and autonomous making of a life of one's own. Raz's approach is simultaneously alert to the complexity (...) of argument, to a degree that practitioners of practical ethics sometimes are not, and aware of the limits of theorizing, as devotees of theoretical ethics rarely are. Thus, while scorning "supermarket liberalism" and rejecting, in company with Rawls, "hand-to-mouth piecemeal intuitionism", Raz also doubts whether ideal theory in the Rawlsian mode is "a meaningful enterprise", emphasizing wisely, in my judgment, that "not everything we know can be exhaustively stated in the abstract". The "dense webs of complex actions and interactions" that give meaning to our lives "defy explicit learning or comprehensive articulation. They are available only to those who have or can acquire practical knowledge of them, that is, knowledge embodied in social practices and transmitted by habituation". (shrink)
abstract Because we are more comfortable with judgements of conceptual conceivability than with judgements of practical possibility, we content ourselves with imaginary cases, which are useless for making many decisions that practical people most need to make, notably all-things-considered decisions about when to follow an admitted general principle and when to make an exception. The diverse cases of climate change, preventive attack, and torture all illustrate how the avoidance of the difficult task of integrating empirical judgements with conceptual judgements through (...) the flight into the sanitized abstraction of imaginary cases undermines attempts at practical ethics. All three cases involve allegedly exceptional, or emergency, situations, although climate change seems to require more than the usual compliance with general principle while preventive attack and torture supposedly require less than the usual compliance. By my lights the proposed exceptions are, respectively, fully, sometimes, and never justified. But the fundamental point is that one unfortunately cannot decide any of the cases without assessing what is in fact likely as well as what is conceptually possible. (shrink)
Some of our most fundamental moral rules are violated by the practices of torture and war. If one examines the concrete forms these practices take, can the exceptions to the rules necessary to either torture or war be justified? Fighting Hurt brings together key essays by Henry Shue on the issue of torture, and relatedly, the moral challenges surrounding the initiation and conduct of war, and features a new introduction outlining the argument of the essays, putting them into context, and (...) describing how and in what ways his position has modified over time. The first six chapters marshal arguments that have been refined over 35 years for the conclusion that torture can never be justified in any actual circumstances whatsoever. The practice of torture has nothing significant in common with the ticking bomb scenario often used in its defence, and weak U.S. statutes have loop-holes for psychological torture of the kind now favoured by CIA in the 'war against terrorism'. The other sixteen chapters maintain that for as long as wars are in fact fought, it is morally urgent to limit specific destructive practices that cannot be prohibited. Two possible exceptions to the UN Charter's prohibition on all but defensive wars, humanitarian military intervention and preventive war to eliminate WMD, are evaluated; and one possible exception to the principle of discrimination, Michael Walzer's 'supreme emergency', is sharply criticized. Two other fundamental issues about the rules for the conduct of war receive extensive controversial treatment. The first is the rules to limit the bombing of dual-use infrastructure, with a focus on alternative interpretations of the principle of proportionality that limits 'collateral damage'. The second is the moral status of the laws of war as embodied in International Humanitarian Law. It is argued that the current philosophical critique of IHL by Jeff McMahan focused on individual moral liability to attack is an intellectual dead-end and that the morally best rules are international laws that are the same for all fighters.Examining real cases, including U.S. bombing of Iraq in 1991, the Clinton Administration decision not to intervene in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, and CIA torture after 9/11 and its alternatives, this book is highly accessible to general readers who are interested in the ethical status of American political life, especially foreign policy. (shrink)
Perhaps because John Rawls attempts to separate ideal theory and non-ideal theory too sharply from each other, The Law of Peoples formulates principles to govern cooperative international relations only among the ideal states that Rawls labels `peoples'. An important and presumably numerous category of non-peoples are those he calls `outlaw states'. To guide international relations between peoples and outlaw states Rawls offers only principles of just war. Either Rawls is assuming in a kind of Hobbesian pessimism that large numbers of (...) actual states are in a permanent state of war with each other, or he has neglected to formulate principles to govern non-hostile international relations between peoples and outlaw states. This article explores whether, within Rawls's own categories, it might be possible to specify a minimal content for a form of international public reason in accord with which some peoples and some outlaw states could avoid war with each other and treat each other with reciprocity. It is essential to incorporate the fact, which Rawls acknowledges but generally ignores, that not all internally repressive states are externally aggressive. It may be possible for peoples to coexist peacefully with the subset of outlaw states that are non-aggressive. One great danger, however, is that reciprocally acceptable terms for international relations would need to leave unchallenged too much violation of human rights within the repressive states. Key Words: international justice war John Rawls Law of Peoples public reason. (shrink)
Although the thesis that equal basic liberties take priority over increases in wealth is one of the two most important theses in the rawlsian theory of justice, The argumentation for it is obscure. This article emphasizes the centrality of self-Respect in rawls' treatment of liberty, Specifies five particular assumptions he makes, And constructs a deductive argument from the rawlsian assumptions to the rawlsian conclusion about liberty. Of special interest are the premises of economic adequacy for the worst-Off man and the (...) incentive value of economic inequality, Which reveal the relation between the difference principle and the priority of liberty. (shrink)
The purpose of this article is to map the relationships of various moral arguments for action on climate change to each other in a particular case rather than to explore any single argument in depth or to make any abstract claims about the priorities among the arguments themselves. Specifically, it tries to show that “historical responsibility”, that is, responsibility for past emissions, is very important, although not quite in the way usually argued, but that it is not by itself determinative. (...) Other, independent considerations also greatly matter, although it happens that as a matter of fact all considerations strongly tend to converge towards the same conclusions about which states are responsible to act in order to slow climate change. “Historical responsibility” is shown to involve both contribution to, or causation of, climate change and benefit from climate change. Other factors that play roles in this case are ability to pay, the no-harm principle, and the duty to preserve the physical pre-conditions of human life. (shrink)
Is a nation ever justified in attacking before it has been attacked? If so, under precisely what conditions? This volume of new, specially commissioned chapters provides the most definitive assessment to date of the justifiability of preemptive or preventive military action.
In cases in which there is the possibility of massive human losses, the threshold likelihood of their occurrence, and the non-excessive costs of their prevention, we ought to act now. This is all the more definitely the case because it may well be that this is the time-of-last-opportunity to head off one or more potential disasters, all of which may still be preventable by sufficiently rapid reductions in carbon emissions from the combustion of fossil fuel. It is unfair that the (...) present generation should incur as heavy a burden as it does of seizing the last opportunity for prevention of disasters like large sea-level rises, but the unfairness is not sufficient to make the burden unreasonable to bear, especially since it is not in fact as heavy as often believed. (shrink)
Common sense would suggest that the acquisition of precision-guided munitions should make it easier to avoid “collateral” damage in war. But U.S. military theorists have drawn the opposite conclusion: namely, that the more precise the weapon, the more permissive the standard for targeting should be. Henry Shue explains why this has happened—and why it is factually mistaken and morally misguided.
The Baptism of the Bomb Here is a two-step plan to rescue nuclear war from immorality. First, the United States should build the most moral offensive nuclear weapons that money can buy and bring nuclear warfare into compliance with the principle of noncombatant immunity. Then it should build a defensive “shield” that will make offensive nuclear weapons “impotent and obsolete” and take the world “beyond deterrence.” In this second stage, called the “Strategic Defense Initiative” by believers and “Star Wars” by (...) doubters, antimissile technology will confront missile technology like a Hegelian antithesis confronting its thesis, and we will all be lifted up out of the age of nuclear war into a realm made safe for conventional war. 1 Even according to believers in the SDI, however, intermediate deployment, not to mention full deployment, of a strategic defense is some time away, pending breakthroughs on technological problems at which public money is now being thrown. (shrink)
Henry Shue,Aude Bandini | : Au vu de l’indolence, voire de l’impavidité dont témoignent les approches qu’ont adoptées la plupart des pays du monde à l’égard du changement climatique, il semble n’y avoir guère d’urgence. La question est de savoir en quoi cela pose problème, si problème il y a. À cela, je réponds que tout, là-dedans, pose problème et, plus précisément, qu’on peut y voir autant une violation des droits fondamentaux que le signe qu’une occasion en or de protéger (...) ces droits a été ratée. Il est, au contraire, urgent d’agir sur deux fronts convergents. Tout d’abord, il faut faire baisser les émissions, nettement et résolument. La concentration de carbone dans l’atmosphère ne cessera pas de croître tant que l’on n’aura pas ramené les émissions à zéro. Ensuite, il faut que l’on développe des technologies utilisant des sources d’énergie alternatives aussi rapidement qu’il est humainement possible de le faire. Parvenue à ce point, l’humanité pourrait se sortir d’affaire, si du moins nous n’avons pas émis la billionième tonne d’ici là. | : The desultory, almost leisurely approach of most of the world’s national states to climate change rejects no detectable sense of urgency. My question is what, if anything, is wrong with this persistent lack of urgency. My answer is that everything is wrong with it and, in particular, that it constitutes a violation of basic rights as well as a failure to seize a golden opportunity to protect rights. Instead, action is urgent on two converging fronts. First, carbon emissions need to be cut back sharply and aggressively. The atmospheric concentration of carbon will not stop growing until emissions are zero. Second, alternative energy technologies need to be developed as quickly as humanly possible. At that point, humanity might be out of the woods, provided that we have meanwhile not emitted the trillionth metric ton. (shrink)
In September of 2002, the administration of President George W. Bush announced its policy of preemption. This policy is actually equivalent to a policy of preventive war. The principal difficulty with this policy is that it will incite fear in governments who would not otherwise attack us, and thereby incite them to hostile action. Thus the policy actually makes the world a more dangerous place.