Published: ‘The Donor’s Dilemma: International Aid and Human Rights Violations’ (with Niheer Dasandi) in the British Journal of Political Science

This one has been a long time in the making.. Niheer and I started on the idea all the way back in July 2014 (!), so it is even more rewarding to see this paper out now, and especially given the great journal we managed to land it in.

What we tried to do in this paper is to develop a framework of thinking about dilemmas in politics, and specifically given cases of human rights violations in development aid recipients. My theoretical contribution here is to suggest a ‘political’ interpretation of the traditional literature in moral philosophy on the ontology and epistemology of dilemmas. In January 2016, Niheer and I organised a workshop on this theme at UCL’s Global Governance Institute (see here), where we were lucky enough to host the brilliant Jennifer Rubenstein (author of Between Samaritans and States: The Political Ethics of Humanitarian INGOs; see my review of this book here).

A word on working across subfields and across disciplines. I am a normative politicla theorist by training, with a tendency towards the philosophical. Niheer is a political economist specializing in international development. While this is not my first cross-disciplinary collaboration,  it is certainly the one I enjoyed most. Thinking back, I think this is due to the fact that the paper was truly a collaborative effort: while it certainly has more abstract and theoretical sections, and more applied and case-based sections, these are the product of shared work, with both of us (well, I at least!) learning a lot in the process.

The article is free to access here until October 14th, 2017.

Image result for british journal of political scienceAbstract: Donor governments face a dilemma when providing development aid to states that violate human rights. While aid may contribute to positive development outcomes, it may also contribute to rights violations committed by these regimes. This article provides a conceptual framework for donors to address this dilemma in a normatively justified way. Drawing on recent methodological advancements in normative political theory, it develops a distinctively political framework of dilemmas, suggesting three models: complicitydouble effect and dirty hands. It considers this framework in the context of development aid, discussing the relevant considerations for donors in different cases. The article demonstrates that an approach to development assistance that acknowledges political realities does not have to be normatively silent.


Published: ‘Pro Mundo Mori? The Problem of Cosmopolitan Motivation in War’ in Ethics & International Affairs

My doctoral project on the motivational critique of cosmopolitanism dealt primarily with questions of social justice. However, in 2016, preparing a paper for conference on cosmopolitanism and patriotism in democratic armies, I was prompted to think about analogies  between the problem of motivation in cosmopolitan justice and the problem of motivation in cosmopolitan wars – specifically, armed humanitarian interventions. The result is now published in Ethics & International Affairs.

This is my first foray into the ethics of war, and I enjoyed writing it quite a bit. There are many questions still left open here, and I hope to be able to address them one day!

Image result for ethics and international affairsAbstract: This article presents a new understanding of the problem of cosmopolitan motivation in war, comparing it to the motivational critique of social justice cosmopolitanism. The problem of cosmopolitanism’s “motivational gap” is best interpreted as a political one, not a meta-ethical or ethical one. That is, the salient issue is not whether an individual soldier is able to be motivated by cosmopolitan concerns, nor is it whether being motivated by cosmopolitanism would be too demanding. Rather, given considerations of legitimacy in the use of political power, a democratic army has to be able to motivate its soldiers to take on the necessary risks without relying on coercion alone. Patriotic identification offers a way to achieve this in wars of national defense, but less so in armed humanitarian interventions (AHIs). Two potential implications are that either AHIs should be privatized or that national armies should be transformed to become more cosmopolitan.


Interview with Prof. Mark Philp (University of Warwick) on Realism and the History of Political Thought

On 9 May 2017, Steven Klein and I interviewed Prof. Mark Philp  on his academic journey, realism in political theory, and the history of political thought, in anticipation of the Max Weber Lecture he gave the following day titled ‘The corruption of politics’ (which you can watch here).

Upcoming Talks and Events (Rome, Florence, Oxford)

Rome, 15th-18th March, 2017: I will be presenting, along with Cécile Laborde, our co-authored paper ‘Cosmopolitan Patriotism as a Civic Ideal’ at a workshop on cosmopolitanism and national identity, organised by Robert Audi of the Australian Catholic University. Other speakers include, among others, Onora O’Neill (Cambridge), Rainer Forst (Frankfurt), Philip Pettit (Princeton/ANU) and John Tasioulas (KCL)

Florence, 2nd May, 2017: I will be discussing with Chaim Gans (Tel Aviv University) his recent book, A Political Theory for the Jewish People (Oxford University Press, 2016). See the event details here.

Oxford, 20th-21st June, 2017: I will be taking part in a workshop at Nuffield College, Oxford on ‘Liberal Nationalism and Its Critics: Normative and Empirical Questions’, organised by Gina Gustavsson and David Miller.

Published: ‘Anti-Cosmopolitanism and the Motivational Preconditions for Social Justice’ in Social Theory and Practice

My article on the political motivation argument against cosmopolitanism is now available in Social Theory and Practice (online first), and will be included in the April 2017 issue. This has been a long time in the making (starting out as a thesis chapter about three and a half years ago), and benefited from the support and comments of many, many friends and colleagues, so I am very happy it is now out in the world.

A pre-proofs version is available here -but please, only cite the official version when you explain why I am wrong in your next book/article!

AbstracImage result for social theory and practicet: This article reconstructs the political motivation argument against cosmopolitanism, according to which the extension of social justice beyond bounded communities would be motivationally unstable, and thus unjustified. It does so through an analysis of the stability problem, and a reconstruction of the three most prominent anti-cosmopolitan arguments – Rawlsian statism, liberal nationalism, and civic republicanism – as solutions to this problem. It then examines, and rejects, three prominent objections, each denying a different level of the argument. The article concludes that the civic republican version of the argument is the most plausible, and implications for cosmopolitanism are considered

Workshop on Political Dilemmas of International Aid, 18 January, UCL’s Global Governance Institute

I’m very excited about this  upcoming workshop, organised by Niheer Dasandi and myself, on political dilemmas of international development aid. Niheer and I are going to present our recent work on the donor’s dilemma, but even more importantly, we will be discussing this with Alan Whaites of the OECD’s Accountability and Effective Institutions Team, and with Jennifer Rubenstein (University of Virginia), author of the wonderful book Between States and Samaritans: The Political Ethics of Humanitarian NGOs (Oxford University Press, 2015).

International aid is under increasing scrutiny. While donors and development NGOs point to the positive impact aid has in developing countries, critics argue that aid does more harm than good by facilitating rights abuses.

Human rights organisations and British newspapers, in particular, have been critical of what they see as taxpayer-funded support for corrupt and repressive regimes. Given the messy politics and extreme situations that donors and development NGOs often face in developing countries, how should they respond to the dilemmas arising from international aid? What types of rules should guide their actions, and how could these rules be justified?

18 January, 5pm. Follow the link above for registration.

Book Review: Baron, Obligation in Exile: The Jewish Diaspora, Israel and Critique

Ilan Baron’s ambitious book centres on a controversial and highly topical research question: how can one best understand the relationship between the Jewish diaspora and the Israeli state, and the attitudes and responsibilities of the former towards the latter? Continue reading “Book Review: Baron, Obligation in Exile: The Jewish Diaspora, Israel and Critique”