Donnerstag, 09. Dezember 2021, 11:30 - 13:00 iCal

Military intervention in interstate conflicts

Cécile Fabre on Military intervention in interstate conflicts


Cécile Fabre is a Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Oxford. Her research interests are in theories of distributive justice; the philosophy of democracy; just war theory; the ethics of foreign policy, with particular focus on the ethics of economic statecraft and the ethics of espionage. She also is the author of Cosmopolitan War (Oxford University Press, 2012) and Cosmopolitan Peace (Oxford University Press, 2016). Currently, she is working on a paper on military intervention in interstate conflicts, which will be discussed during the lecture on the 9th of December.



Antrittsvorlesung, Public Lecture


Suppose that state A attacks state D and that the ensuing military conflict threatens international peace and security - thereby triggering a global crisis. Does this provide third parties with a moral justification for militarily intervening in that conflict? Compared to the ethics of humanitarian intervention and the ethics of national self-defence, the ethics of third-party military involvment in interstate conflicts remains strikingly under-developed in contemporary just war theory. Michael Walzer's defence of neutrality in Just and Unjust Wars is the exception that confirms the rule.

My aim in this paper is to defend the view that the protection of of international peace and security is a just cause for third-party military intervention - for short, Intervention. As we shall see, however, a defence of Intervention requires fairly substantive revisions to key tenets of just war theory. I first sketch an account of the conditions under which an interstate conflict is or has the potential to threaten international peace and security such as to be, or to have the potential of becoming, a global crisis if left unchecked. I show that to defend Intervention is tantamount to defending preventive military force, deterrent military force, and the resort to force in defence of rights violations of which are not standardly regarded as just causes for military action.

Much work has been done in the thirty years on, respectively, the ethics of preventive war, and the ethics of waging war against threats which do not take the form of an armed attack (such as wars in defence of rights to the basic necessity of life.) Instead of retreading these relatively familiar debate, in the remainder of the paper, I focus on the use of military force as a deterrent. I argue that deterrence is justified in far fewer cases than we might think. I end the paper by tackling two objections.



Zoom Sign-up:


Eva Hijlkema
Department of Philosophy