A Liberal Theory of International Justice

ISBN : 9780199604500

Andrew Altman; Christopher Heath Wellman
256 Pages
168 x 230 mm
Pub date
May 2011
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A Liberal Theory of International Justice advances a novel theory of international justice that combines the orthodox liberal notion that the lives of individuals are what ultimately matter morally with the putatively antiliberal idea of an irreducibly collective right of self-governance. The individual and her rights are placed at center stage insofar as political states are judged legitimate if they adequately protect the human rights of their constituents and respect the rights of all others. Yet, the book argues that legitimate states have a moral right to self-determination and that this right is inherently collective, irreducible to the individual rights of the persons who constitute them. Exploring the implications of these ideas, the book addresses issues pertaining to democracy, secession, international criminal law, armed intervention, political assassination, global distributive justice, and immigration. A number of the positions taken in the book run against the grain of current academic opinion: there is no human right to democracy; separatist groups can be morally entitled to secede from legitimate states; the fact that it is a matter of brute luck whether one is born in a wealthy state or a poorer one does not mean that economic inequalities across states must be minimized or even kept within certain limits; most existing states have no right against armed intervention; and it is morally permissible for a legitimate state to exclude all would-be immigrants.


1. Introduction
2. Democracy and Self-Determination
3. Secession
4. International Criminal Law
5. Armed Intervention and Political Assassination
6. International Distributive Justice
7. Immigration
8. Conclusion

About the author: 

Andrew Altman is the author of Critical Legal Studies: A Liberal Critique and Arguing About Law: An Introduction to Legal Philosophy. He is Professor of Philosophy and Director, Jean Beer Blumenfeld Center for Ethics at Georgia State University. Professor Altman has published widely on topics in legal and political philosophy. His Ph.D. is from Columbia University, and he is a former Liberal Arts Fellow in Law at Harvard Law School. Along with Professor Wellman, he has co-directed two summer seminars for the National Endowment for the Humanities.; Christopher Heath Wellman is the author of A Theory of Secession and (with John Simmons) Is There a Duty to Obey the Law? He is Professor of Philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis and Professorial Fellow at CAPPE, Charles Sturt University.

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