'The Ethics of Humanitarian Intervention, with Comments on Syria' – a Public Lecture by Jeff McMahan

Lectures Talks and Workshops
Friday 30th May 2014 (17:00-20:00)
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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, and followed, at 6.30pm, by a drinks reception.

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, for which a synopsis is included below, 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, but registration is required.

Full details:

5.00- 6.30: Public lecture by McMahan, with an introduction by Professor Michael Whitby, Pro Vice Chancellor and Head of College of Arts and Law, and vote of thanks by Professor Nick Wheeler, Director of ICCS.

6.30-8.00: Wine reception and buffet with stalls, posters, and installations.

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.

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. For the conference programme, and to free reserve tickets, please follow this link.

Jeff McMahan is Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University, New York. He is the author of The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life (Oxford University Press, 2002) and Killing in War (Oxford University Press, 2009). He has several other books forthcoming from Oxford University Press, including a collection of essays called The Values of Lives, a book on war intended for both academic and non-academic readers called The Right Way to Fight, and a sequel to his 2002 book called The Ethics of Killing: Self-Defense, War, and Punishment.