Chapter

Evil in Contemporary International Political Theory: Acts that Shock the Conscience of Mankind

Peter Sutch

in Evil in Contemporary Political Theory

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780748641963
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652860 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748641963.003.0006
Evil in Contemporary International Political Theory: Acts that Shock the Conscience of Mankind

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This chapter rejects the systematic approach to theorising evil from cosmopolitan first principles. It argues that in looking for an international conception of evil, one should engage in an exposition of the idea of ‘acts that shock the conscience of mankind’, drawing on the rich material available in international law. This is a public repository of genuine concern, encompassing both moral reflection and clear recognition of the practical limits of state action in a complex world. In this view, the international community of states has already gone beyond the standard assumptions of old-style realist theory. States can collectively respond to humanitarian catastrophe and crisis. When they do so, they create new norms and expectations which involve deep commitments that, by slow degrees, change the terms of reference of international relations.

Keywords: cosmopolitan principles; theorising evil; conscience; international law; moral reflection; international relations

Chapter.  9162 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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