The supreme emergency exemption: Rawls and the use of force

  • Roberts P
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Both Rawls andWalzer argue for a supreme emergency exemption and are commonly thought to do so for the same reasons. However, far from ‘aping’Walzer, Rawls engages in a reconstruction of the exemption that changes its focus altogether, making clear its dependence on an account of universal human rights and the idea of a well-ordered society. This paper is therefore, in the first instance, textual, demonstrating that Rawls has been misinterpreted in the case of supreme emergency. In the second instance the approach is reconstructive, providing a reinterpretation of Rawls that fits his treatment of supreme emergency with his broader commitments in just war and international relations. This reinterpretation enables us to draw out a pattern of argument that Rawls appears to share with a much more strident liberal cosmopolitanism.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Human rights
  • Just war
  • Rawls
  • Supreme emergency
  • Walzer

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  • Peri Roberts

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