JPIL Vol 6 Issue 1 2015 - Article 2

THE LAW OF PEOPLES IN THE AGE OF EMPIRE: THE POSTMODERN RESURGENCE OF THE IDEOLOGY OF JUST WAR
 
Asger Sørensen
 
Abstract
The basic claim is that the principles John Rawls presents in The Law of Peoples will make more wars legitimate and, therefore, tend to lead to more wars. First, I provide an analysis of Rawls’ discussion of just war as it is presented in A Theory of Justice with a particular focus on his discussion of individual civil disobedience. Then, the political international law presented in The Law of Peoples is described, in which the normative weight is now placed on a collective unit; and this shifts the discussion significantly, since Rawls accepts the idea of just wars and attacks on civilians. The analysis in Empire by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri of the changes in sovereignty in the postmodern world is presented as a reasonable proposal for a diagnosis of the times, including the material developments closely connected thereto. On this basis, Rawls’ international law may also be criticised for functioning as ideological support to an all-too-high degree for increased global inequality with respect to economic goods and political power.
 

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