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The ethics of humanitarian intervention

Barber Institute
Friday 30 May 2014 (17:00-18:30)

The Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)  at Birmingham is delighted to announce a public lecture on the ethics of humanitarian intervention by Jeff McMahan (Rutgers), to be held on 30th May, at 5pm in the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

Professor McMahan, who will hold the position of Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the IAS for the duration of May 2014, is one of the most celebrated and influential philosophers writing on the ethics of war today. He is well known for a style that combines great philosophical rigour and innovativeness with great clarity and accessibility to non-specialists. His public lecture is recommended for anyone interested in the ethics of war and intervention generally, or in thinking about some of the biggest current and recent issues in international affairs from a moral point of view. 

Tickets for this event are free.

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McMahan’s lecture will be preceded by a conference on the ethics of war and intervention, also hosted by the IAS, and featuring academic papers by McMahan and others.

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Lecture synopsis

Many on the political left view virtually all exercises of military force with suspicion - even those for which there might be a humanitarian justification.  Others deplore the unwillingness of powerful states to intervene in such conflicts as those in Rwanda, Sudan, and Syria, when intervention could arguably save tens or hundreds of thousands of lives.  Many on the political right think that no instance of humanitarian intervention can be a justifiable use of a state's resources unless it can be shown to be in that state's interest.  In his lecture, McMahan will address these different views and consider when humanitarian intervention might be permissible and when it might even be morally required.

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