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Ethics and Intervention [Abstract]

Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 3 (1989)

December 2, 1989

The moral complexity surrounding intervention is influenced by a broad spectrum of both ethical and practical assumptions and considerations. "All these issues," Smith writes, "affect one's ultimate position on intervention, and different assumptions lead, obviously, to different conclusions."The bulk of this article is a useful survey of some of the key ethical issues of disagreement among contemporary authors who represent a variety of approaches to the subject: traditional and prudential realists, statists, cosmopolitans, ideologists. Smith's own view, clearly articulated in his concluding section, is what he labels "tempered nonintervention": "a reaffirmation of the principle of nonintervention, tempered by the possibility of humanitarian intervention when undertaken with specific safeguards."

 

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