Cosmopolitanism and the duty to assist

by March 31, 2011

Cécile Fabre

A January 31 podcast interview with Oxford political and moral philosopher Cécile Fabre has turned out to be rather timely, concerning as it does the question of how the cosmopolitan concern for individuals, whoever they are and wherever they might live, can be squared with Just War theory, which sees states as  primary actors. Cosmopolitans would oppose “punitive” wars, she argues, but might well support wars in defense of others, since the philosophy carries with it “a strong duty to provide assistance to strangers”. Yet though she concludes that wars of humanitarian intervention may thus seem “morally mandatory”, the risk of killing innocent individuals through military action may in fact mean that a moderate pacifism is the default position of cosmopolitans.

Listen to the podcast here, and read more on Cécile Fabre and her work here.