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Theories of International

Ethics
How can we judge leaders
actions?
I. Bases of ethics
A. Consequentialism: Right and wrong depend on
consequences of our actions. Examples:
1. Constrained choice (practical necessity): We can be
excused when the consequences of any other choice
would be to prevent us from making further choices.
(Analogy: a gun to your head).
2. Utilitarianism: Greatest good for the greatest number.
B. Deontology: Certain acts are right or wrong
regardless of consequences
1. Argument from divine revelation: Certain acts prohibited
by moral law even though no punishment/consequences
2. Kants Categorical Imperative: Act only when you want
your behavior to become a universal law
II. Goals: National vs. Global
Interests
A. National Interest: Sometimes incoherent
(Arrows Theorem) but probably includes
physical and economic security
1. Implication: Governments should value own
citizens welfare above welfare of others
2. Problems:
a. Identifying long-term national interest is hard or
even impossible
b. National interests may conflict creates opposing
moral duties. Implies
c. Your countrys national interest must be defended
as a moral goal but this rules out objective
arguments from a hypothetical original position
B. The global interest: Everyone is
equal
1. Implication: Equal moral weight to every
life
2. Problems:
a. Requires governments to sacrifice their own
people (and people to sacrifice themselves)
for the good of others (self-detachment)
b. Arrows theorem undercuts the idea of the
global interest as a set of policies.
Instead, limit to focus of all are equal
III. Four Views of International
Ethics
Legitimate Goal of Policy
National
Interest
Global Interest
Decision
Criteria
Consequences
Realism
Deontology
A. Realism: The Doctrine of
Practical Necessity
1. Felix Oppenheims Argument:
a. Morality implies choice to say that a state should
take Action A instead of Action B is to imply that it
does indeed have a choice.
b. Practical necessity makes morality irrelevant Even
if a state has a choice between Actions A and B, if it
faces extinction if it pursues Action B, then it is
practically necessary for it to pursue Action A
c. National interest is necessary goal States that fail
to pursue the national interest get eaten by those
that do critical step: does this happen?
d. It is not rational to oppose something that is
practically necessary, since no genuine choice
exists.
2. Implications of Practical
Necessity
a. Recommending national interest: Redundant
b. Opposing it: Irrational
c. Goals compatible with national interest:
i. Only one effective means available: Support redundant,
opposition irrational.
ii. Several effective means available: Morality comes into
play.
Some means more effective than others: irrational to oppose the
more effective means and redundant to oppose the less effective
means. (If something is necessary, then it must be pursued using
the best means at hand.)
Several equally effective means available: Moral choice exists
3. Problems with Practical
Necessity
a. If true, the theory is useless: If truly
necessary, all states will at all times follow
national interest.
b. National Interest can be incoherent: Arrows
Theorem
c. Is risk morally equivalent to certainty? Very
few choices involve certain death. Is every
risk to be avoided?
d. Mixed evidence on necessity of national
interest
e. Assumes existence is its own purpose: Do
societies exist to promote any particular value
or way of life?
III. Four Views of International
Ethics
Legitimate Goal of Policy
National
Interest
Global Interest
Decision
Criteria
Consequences
Realism Utilitarianism
Deontology
B. Utilitarianism
1. Fundamental principle: Greatest good for
the greatest number. Everyones
happiness counts equally.
2. Variant (John Rawls who rejects
utilitarianism for other reasons): Reason
from a original position behind a veil
of ignorance. Assume decisions must
be made without knowing your own
place in the world. Which world do you
want to live in? Rawls: Would choose
world that protects the weak.
3. Problems with Utilitarianism
a. Vagueness The greatest good is even more
problematic than national interest
b. Incorrect calculations can justify anything
Examples: economic benefits and social
stability used to justify slavery, hegemonic
stability theory
c. Distributive justice Utilitarianism allows us to
treat people unfairly for the benefit of others
(kill half and give their stuff to the rest, cutting
pollution in the process). Rawls does avoid
this problem
d. Denies state sovereignty States arent happy
or unhappy, only people are so sovereignty
is meaningless.
III. Four Views of International
Ethics
Legitimate Goal of Policy
National
Interest
Global Interest
Decision
Criteria
Consequences
Realism Utilitarianism
Deontology
Libertarianism
C. Libertarianism
1. Fundamental principles (largely from Locke)
a. Legitimacy: Government power is moral if and only
if exercised by consent of people. Even effective
tyranny is wrong, since the state must serve the
people, not the other way around.
b. Priority of Liberty: Strong property rights and strong
political rights.
c. Government should never break the social contract
with the governed legitimacy depends on
respecting rights. This is a deontological principle
consequences are irrelevant.
2. Implications: Isolationism and
the Minimal State
a. No taxation without consent Consent can be explicit
(rare) or implied (government can ensure continued
survival of the people).
b. Draft = Slavery. Forced labor violates fundamental
freedom, so war must be limited to actually repelling
invasions.
c. Foreign Aid = Theft. Steals money from populace to
give it to others. Also true of defense spending for the
benefit of foreigners instead of homeland defense.
d. National interest is the will of the people, not the
preservation of the state. The two may not be
identical.
e. All lives are not equal under legitimate law each
government exists to promote the welfare of a limited
group, not everyone.
3. Problems with Libertarianism
a. Confuses consent to government with consent to each
government act: People may agree to be bound by a
process that sometimes harms them
b. Logically precludes all social welfare within the state as
well as without
c. Popular Will vs. Fundamental Rights: Government is
established to protect its own peoples interests. This
may require exploitation but where does it acquire
the right to oppress foreigners?
d. Problems with national interest (disagreement) can
create need for secrecy but lying to citizens violates
Lockes idea of legitimate consent of the people!
III. Four Views of International
Ethics
Legitimate Goal of Policy
National
Interest
Global Interest
Decision
Criteria
Consequences
Realism Utilitarianism
Deontology
Libertarianism Cosmopolitanism
D. Cosmopolitanism
1. Fundamental principles:
a. Kants Categorical Imperative: Behave in
ways that you think others should behave;
dont treat people as means to an end
b. Need for moral law: Conditional statements
arent really imperatives at all, so true moral
guidelines must be law-like in form
c. Relevant community is global: Since we
interact with people in other countries, we
have duties to treat them morally
2. Implications of Cosmopolitanism
a. Negotiate international laws where
lawlessness exists
b. Follow them once negotiated
c. Two wrongs dont make a right
noncompliance by others does not end the
moral force of law
d. Do the right thing even when no formal law
exists: Behave as if a moral law governs
ones actions
3. Problems with Cosmopolitanism
a. New state dilemma Why obey rules to which
the state never consented?
b. Changing state dilemma Stronger states
want to revoke consent to rules that protect
the weak
c. Legal indeterminacy Law frequently
contradicts itself
d. No justification for sovereignty Why not a
single world government, if supra-national
rules are superior?
e. Basis for law is left unresolved: Consent,
Natural Law, Philosophy, Religion?
International Law
What does it mean?
I. The Content of International Law
A. International Norms Unwritten principles
that states usually claim to follow
1. Jus ad Bellum The law of Just War
a. Right authority War must be authorized (by a
state?)
b. Right intention Aim of war is to re-establish just
peace, not narrow self-interest
c. Reasonable Hope Victory possible
d. Proportionality Means must be proportional to
both ends and provocation
e. Last Resort War is costly, so should be last resort
2. Humanitarian Intervention
a. Original scope: Rescue own citizens
b. Expanded concept: Rescue others from
danger
c. Limits: Excludes regime change or
territorial acquisition as means. Protect
using minimum necessary force.
B. From Norms to Law
1. Statutory international law: Treaties
2. Customary international law
a. A certain legal practice is observed
b. It is generally regarded as binding (often
disputed)
c. Examples: Diplomatic immunity, Law of the
Sea, Prohibitions of slavery and genocide (all
regarded as binding prior to treaties)
II. The International Law of War
A. War is prohibited by Kellogg-Briand Pact,
UN Charter except
1. Right of Self-Defense (Article 51 of UN
Charter) limited to response to armed
aggression until Security Council can deal
with the situation. Requires notification of
the Security Council

Kellogg-Briand Pact (1929)
ARTICLE I: The High Contracting Parties solemly
declare in the names of their respective peoples that
they condemn recourse to war for the solution of
international controversies, and renounce it, as an
instrument of national policy in their relations with
one another.
ARTICLE II: The High Contracting Parties agree that
the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts
of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may
be, which may arise among them, shall never be
sought except by pacific means.
II. The International Law of War
A. War is prohibited by Kellogg-Briand Pact,
UN Charter except
1. Right of Self-Defense (Article 51 of UN
Charter) limited to response to armed
aggression until Security Council can deal
with the situation. Requires notification of
the Security Council

UN Charter
Article II, paragraph 4: "All Members shall
refrain in their international relations from
the threat or use of force against the
territorial integrity or political
independence of any state, or in any other
manner inconsistent with the Purposes of
the United Nations."
II. The International Law of War
A. War is prohibited by Kellogg-Briand Pact,
UN Charter except
1. Right of Self-Defense (Article 51 of UN
Charter) limited to response to armed
aggression until Security Council can deal
with the situation. Requires notification of
the Security Council

Article 51 Exceptions
Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the
inherent right of individual or collective self-
defence if an armed attack occurs against a
Member of the United Nations, until the Security
Council has taken measures necessary to
maintain international peace and security.
Measures taken by Members in the exercise of
this right of self-defence shall be immediately
reported to the Security Council and shall not in
any way affect the authority and responsibility of
the Security Council under the present Charter
to take at any time such action as it deems
necessary in order to maintain or restore
international peace and security.
II. The International Law of War
A. War is prohibited by Kellogg-Briand Pact,
UN Charter except
1. Right of Self-Defense (Article 51 of UN
Charter) limited to response to armed
aggression until Security Council can deal
with the situation. Requires notification of
the Security Council

2. Anticipatory Self-Defense: The
Caroline Test (Customary)
During the unsuccessful rebellion of 1837 in Upper
Canada, against British rule, the British seized the US
ship Caroline. In an exchange of diplomatic notes
between the governments of the United States and
Great Britain, then U.S. Secretary of State Daniel
Webster outlined a framework for self-defense which
did not require a prior attack. Military response to a
threat was judged permissible so long as the danger
posed was
instant,
overwhelming,
leaving no choice of means and
no moment of deliberation.
3. Military enforcement of
international law
Requires approval of UN Security Council
Only Security Council has authority to enforce
its resolutions unless resolution states
otherwise i.e. Pakistan cannot attack India
over Kashmir, Arab states cannot invade
Israel to enforce partition
The UN Charter Procedures
Article 41: The Security Council may decide what measures
not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to
give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members
of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may
include complete or partial interruption of economic relations
and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other
means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic
relations.
Article 42: Should the Security Council consider that
measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or
have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air,
sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or
restore international peace and security. Such action may
include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by
air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.
3. Military enforcement of
international law
Requires approval of UN Security Council
Only Security Council has authority to enforce its
resolutions unless resolution states otherwise i.e.
Pakistan cannot attack India over Kashmir, Arab
states cannot invade Israel to enforce partition
Precedent:
UN Resolution 573: The UN Security Council
condemned Israel on a 15-0 vote (US abstaining) in
1985, after Israel bombed PLO camps in Tripoli --
attacking a state which merely hosted terrorists, as
opposed to actually committing acts of aggression
itself
B. General principles of the Laws of
War
1. Discrimination: Means used must discriminate
between combatants and non-combatants.
a. No rule of reciprocity legally, two wrongs dont
make a right.
b. Military necessity balancing test If a weapon has
adverse consequences (ie harms civilians directly or
indirectly) then it should only be used where it will
make a large difference in the war effort.
2. Proportionality: Means used must be
proportional to ends achieved. In general, a
disproportionate response (i.e. full-scale
invasion in response to a diplomatic slight) is
illegal.