The State Right of Self-Defense: A Claim in Need of Justification Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
Creator
  • Kling, Jennifer
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy
Abstract
  • My dissertation focuses on the nature and conditions of the state right of self-defense. The claim that states have rights of self-defense that sometimes justify going to war is supported by appeal to the so-called domestic analogy, which likens states to individuals. Just as individuals have rights of self-defense that sometimes justify the use of lethal force, so too do states have rights of self-defense that sometimes justify going to war. But while the domestic analogy is both intuitively persuasive and a pervasive idea in the study of international relations, it does not succeed in justifying the claim that states have rights of self-defense. Whatever reasons we have for accepting that individuals have rights of self-defense, such reasons do not provide grounds for concluding that states have rights of self-defense as well. I consider Locke's natural law theory of individual rights and the associated theory of state rights, Mill's instrumentalist theory of individual rights and the associated theory of state rights, and Rawls' theory of individual rights and the associated theory of state rights, and conclude that these different ways of cashing out the domestic analogy all fail to justify the claim that states have rights of self-defense. However, this does not mean that we must conclude that states do not have rights of self- defense. States do have rights of self-defense when they fulfill one of their primary roles, namely, when they are organized so as to provide the protection that their populations deserve. Such protection involves the state recognizing and respecting the dignity of its individuals, considered as rational autonomous agents, via its deliberative processes, laws, institutions, and policies. When states fail to recognize and respect the dignity of the members of their populations in these ways, they do not have rights of self-defense. Thus, inter-state interventions against such states are not straightforwardly ruled out as rights violations, but instead may be justified in certain circumstances.
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  • In Copyright
Advisor
  • Hill, Thomas E.
  • Ficarrotta, Carl
  • Sayre-McCord, Geoffrey
  • Boxill, Bernard
  • Preston-Roedder, Ryan
Degree
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2015
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  • Chapel Hill, NC
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