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Inaugural Lecture Mr. prof. A.J. Zwitter: Virtues and vices in international law and politics – the effects of moralities beyond justice

When:Tu 11-06-2013 at 14:00

Inaugural Lecture: Mr. prof. A.J. Zwitter, 14.00 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Title : Virtues and vices in international law and politics – the effects of moralities beyond justice

Chair: Internationale Betrekkingen

Faculty: Law

Virtues and Vices are individual human character traits – why bother with them when dealing with states? Because states are created and composed by humans – inherently fallible and susceptible to greed, hatred, and falsehood, and at the same time striving for peace, love and justice. States are created to serve human purpose, whether individual or communal purpose. Their structures reflect the character, thoughts and beliefs of their creators towards the outside, the international, and the inside, its citizen.

Humanitarian aid is but one example that combines these basic human traits. Different theories of international relations highlight different human motivations that manifest themselves in the state: Realists argue for national interest in humanitarian projects; cosmopolitans argue for charity as motivational drive. Both are right, as both motivations are present in the human condition that combines them in the soul of humanity. And, also, the state reflects this human condition through its leaders, institutions and international ambitions.

But what can one learn from understanding the human condition in such a bipolar way of virtues and vices? Virtue ethics aims to help the bearer of virtues and vices to master vices through virtues. Its tool is phronesis, practical wisdom; its goal is eudaimonia - a state of harmony within oneself and within the community (polis). Phronesis might hold the key to international peace. But how to achieve phronesis in international law and politics is still unclear.

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