A Cosmopolitan Theory of The Just War - 2 volumes
(under contract with OUP - ©C. Fabre)


The last four decades have witnessed the emergence of a growing body of work which seeks to articulate and defend cosmopolitan principles of justice, and of a considerable literature on the ethics of war. Surprisingly, those avenues of inquiry have been explored, in the main, separately. Contemporary war ethicists either give a general account of the standard principles of the just war or focus on specific dimensions of war such as terrorism, non-combatant-immunity, asymmetrical warfare and humanitarian intervention. Cosmopolitans, for their part, have tended to focus on defending principles of distributive justice as well as normative guidelines for world governance, but have not devoted much attention to articulating norms for the use of military force, or have done so only partially. Others conceive of humanitarian intervention and peace-building as cosmopolitan responses to injustice, but do not attend to the serious normative difficulties attendant on justifying the acts of killing and destruction which are inherent in such a war.

Not only are current cosmopolitan articulations of just war principles incomplete: none fully takes on board the changing nature of warfare. And yet, there is a growing sense in empirical studies of war that classic, statist, accounts of war need revising in the light of new forms of warfare as witnessed in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and in Sub-Saharan Africa in the last twenty years. In fact, recent empirical writings on new wars claim that cosmopolitan principles are the best framework within which to address so-called new wars. However, those authors, concerned as they are to analyse the latter from an empirical standpoint, do not provide a full cosmopolitan theory of the just war.

Against that background, my aim is to defend an egalitarian, liberal, and cosmopolitan account of the just war, in its three dimensions: when may we resort to war? (jus ad bellum); how must we fight the war? (jus in bello), and how must we act once the war is over? (jus post bellum). In the first volume of the book, Cosmopolitan War, I endeavour to show that cosmopolitan principles for the just war are more plausible than the largely statist tenets of orthodox modern just war theory, and that they can account for the changing nature of warfare. In the second volume, Cosmopolitan Peace, I construct a cosmopolitan account of jus post bellum.

Volume 1 Cosmopolitan War
(forthcoming – in press – summer 2012)
The first part of volume 1 sets the stage (chs. 1 and 2). It offers an account of cosmopolitanism, and sketches out the main claims of the just war tradition, particularly as they are interpreted by the natural law tradition, in the works of thinkers as diverse as Augustine and Grotious. According to cosmopolitan morality, individuals’ basic rights should not be affected by their membership in a cultural, political and social groups. In particular, those in need have a right to receive material help from the affluent, irrespective of borders (ch. 1). Having thus set up the cosmopolitan framework for the remainder of the book, I offer an account of the right to kill in war which draws on recent works by Jeff McMahan and David Rodin - in virtue of which, controversially, the right partly depends on the justness of the war ad bellum.

Once the stage is set, the book will defend a cosmopolitan theory of the just war by adopting a thematic strategy centred on different kinds of war, all of which are instances of contemporary conflicts: resources wars (ch. 3); civil wars (ch. 4); humanitarian wars (ch. 5); privatized wars (ch. 6). It then seeks to study the principle of non-combatant immunity in the light of the cosmopolitan principles of just cause and legitimate authority – via an ethical assessment of asymmetrical wars (ch. 8). It will not review, somewhat mechanically, the various principles for a just war, and systematically reinterpret them through cosmopolitan lenses, for two reasons. First, not all of the principles of jus ad bellum offer possibilities for distinctive cosmopolitan reinterpretations (thus, both cosmopolitan and mainstream just war theory can understand in similar ways the requirement that war be an option of last resort). Moreover, the cornerstone of jus in bello – to wit, the principle of non-combatant immunity – is already (in the orthodox, post-Westphalian tradition), cosmopolitan in spirit, since it holds that the intentional targeting of enemy non-combatants is impermissible, and thus that membership in a political community does not affect bystanders’ right not to be killed.

Accordingly, the book focuses on the two principles of the jus ad bellum on which cosmopolitanism has the most to say, namely, the requirements that the war have a just cause and that it be fought by a legitimate authority. In other words, it identifies, on cosmopolitan grounds, which and whose rights are such that their violation gives rise to a just cause for war; it also identifies, again on cosmopolitan grounds, who may go to war in defence of one’s or other parties’ rights. Thus, the different kinds of war which the book will study from an ethical point of view have been chosen partly because they provide particularly apposite examples of recent changes in warfare, but also because they raise, precisely, the issues of both just cause and legitimate authority.

Volume 2 Cosmopolitan Peace
(in progress)
Wars do not simply start and go on: they have an end as well. A comprehensive normative account of war must attend to the question of how  to end wars, and how former belligerents may act towards one another once the war is over. The current war in Iraq has highlighted how important that question is, which renders its relative neglect in the philosophical literature on war rather puzzling. Volume 2 of the project deals with that issue, and tackles the following questions: (1) Just endings ; (2) Just military occupation; (3) just governance; (4) just entitlements; (5) just punishment. 

 Articles related to the project:

Mandatory Rescue Killings’, Journal of Political Philosophy 15 (2007): 363-84.

Cosmopolitanism, Legitimate Authority and the Just War’, International Affairs 84 (2008): 963-76.

Permissible Rescue Killings’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 109 (2009): 149-64.

'Guns, Food, and Liability to Attack in War', Ethics 120  (2009) : 36-63.

'In Defence of MercenarismBritish Journal of Political Science 40 (2010): 539-59.

'Internecine War Killings', Utilitas 24 (2012): 214-36.