Lessons in Monetary Economics from Playing Monopoly
Martha Nussbaum on John Rawls's Political Liberalism

The Ethical Dimensions of International Institutions (in Politics, Philosophy & Economics)

Mark D. White

A symposium in the new issue of Politics, Philosophy & Economics (10/1, February 2011) brings

together leading thinkers in political philosophy, international relations and political theory to engage in an empirically informed discussion of some basic ethical issues regarding international institutions. These papers represent some of the most cutting edge work on ethically relevant features of international institutions. The first two papers are on the legitimacy of international institutions while the third is concerned with the normative implications of the structure of the international institutions. (from editor Thomas Christiano's introduction, p.3)

The first paper, "Reciprocal legitimation: Reframing the problem of international legitimacy," is by Allen Buchanan:

Theorizing about the legitimacy of international institutions usually begins with a framing assumption according to which the legitimacy of the state is understood solely in terms of the relationship between the state and its citizens, without reference to the effects of state power on others. In contrast, this article argues that whether a state is legitimate vis-a-vis its own citizens depends upon whether its exercise of power respects the human rights of people in other states. The other main conclusions are as follows. First, a state’s participation in international institutions can contribute to its legitimacy in several ways. Second, when international institutions contribute to the legitimacy of states, their doing so can contribute to their own legitimacy. Third, a theory of international legitimacy ought to recognize reciprocal legitimation between states and international institutions.

The second paper, "Legitimacy, humanitarian intervention, and international institutions," is by Miles Kahler:

The legitimacy of humanitarian intervention has been contested for more than a century, yet pressure for such intervention persists. Normative evolution and institutional design have been closely linked since the first debates over humanitarian intervention more than a century ago. Three norms have competed in shaping state practice and the normative discourse: human rights, peace preservation, and sovereignty. The rebalancing of these norms over time, most recently as the state’s responsibility to protect, has reflected specific international institutional environments. The contemporary legitimacy of humanitarian intervention is based on UN Security Council authorization of the use of force. Although the Security Council is often viewed as representative of great-power influence, international acceptance of its role is based on the role of non-permanent members and their support for the sovereignty norm. The current rebalanced norms supporting humanitarian intervention, institutional bias that protects state sovereignty, and the changing character of mass violence may undermine the tenuous contemporary legitimacy of humanitarian intervention. Normative adjustments and new institutional designs are required to insure the legitimacy of international action that protects populations against mass violence.

The final paper, "The distributive justice of a global basic structure: A category mistake?" is by Andreas Follesdal:

The present article explores ‘anti-cosmopolitan’ arguments that shared institutions above the state, such as there are, are not of a kind that support or give rise to distributive claims beyond securing minimum needs. The upshot is to rebut certain of these ‘anti-cosmopolitan’ arguments. Section 1 asks under which conditions institutions are subject to distributive justice norms. That is, which sound reasons support claims to a relative share of the benefits of institutions that exist and apply to individuals? Such norms may require strict equality, Rawls’ Difference Principle, or other constraints on inequality. Section 2 considers, and rejects, several arguments why existing international institutions are not thought to meet these conditions.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)