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Challenges for Humanitarian InterventionEthical Demand and Political Reality$
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C. A. J. Coady, Ned Dobos, and Sagar Sanyal

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198812852

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198812852.001.0001

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Humanitarian Intervention and Non-Ideal Theory

Humanitarian Intervention and Non-Ideal Theory

(p.75) 4 Humanitarian Intervention and Non-Ideal Theory
Challenges for Humanitarian Intervention

Ramon Das

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that the philosophical debate around humanitarian intervention would be improved if it were less ‘ideal-theoretic’. It identifies two ideal-theoretic assumptions. One, in target states where humanitarian intervention is being considered, there are two distinct and easily identified groups: ‘bad guys’ committing serious human rights abuses, and innocent civilians against whom the abuses are being committed. Two, external to the target state in question, there are suitably qualified ‘good guys’—prospective interveners who possess both the requisite military power and moral integrity. If the assumptions hold, the prospects for successful humanitarian intervention are much greater. As a contrast, some possible non-ideal assumptions are that (i) there are many bad guys in a civil war, and (ii) the good guy intervener is itself supporting some of the bad guys. If these non-ideal assumptions hold, prospects for successful humanitarian intervention are small.

Keywords:   Ideal theory, non-ideal theory success, human rights, civil war, humanitarian intervention

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