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Moral Dillema's in International Relations (6 ECTS)

- Prof. Dr A.J. Zwitter

- Block 1

This lecture series aims to introduce students to theoretical, methodological and ethical underpinnings of dilemmas in international politics. The lecture series is tailored to students that want to gain further knowledge regarding legal, philosophical and sociological dimensions in international politics that cause tensions between what is good and fair and what is necessary. The lectures include discussions about contemporary dilemmas and about classic literature in this field. A final essay assignment, which determines the degree to which the students have become familiar with the core literature and perspectives central to ethical and legal dilemmas, will conclude the lecture series. After this lecture series students will:
- be familiar with the core literature concerning ethical and legal dilemmas;
- have gained insights into contemporary international political dilemmas;
- have developed the skill to identify ethical and legal dilemmas in international politics; and
- have developed the ability to critically analyse ethical and legal dilemmas and discuss possible solutions.

Actors in international relations are frequently faced with decision-making dilemmas that stem from conflicting normative obligations, be it ethical standards or international law. Very often these decision-making dilemmas lead to sub-optimal outcomes and sometimes even tragic consequences. For example: what guides the international community’s decision-making whether and how to intervene in Libya and not in Syria; if humanitarian actors must not take sides in a conflict, how to reconcile this with their integration in peace enforcement and peace keeping missions; if moral norms are not the same all over the world, how can human rights be universal?
Some of these dilemmas are caused by faulty methodological approaches (and hence ontological and epistemological misconceptions) to the problems at hand. Others are caused by employing a political rhetoric in discourses in order to reduce complex phenomena to a mere utilitarian cost-benefit analysis. And some are indeed tragic dilemmas where norms collide and harm to people becomes inevitable. In all these cases the question remains whether justice is the only moral dimension or whether other ethical principles such as reconciliation or ethics of care should have a more important role to play.

Laatst gewijzigd:21 december 2017 12:02