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Title: Ethics of economic sanctions
Author: Ellis, Elizabeth Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 2747 0619
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2013
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The ethics of economic sanctions is an issue that has been curiously neglected by philosophers and political theorists. Only a handful of philosophical journal articles and book chapters have ever been published on the subject; yet economic sanctions, as I will show, are significantly morally problematic and their use stands in need of moral justification. The aim of this thesis then is to consider how economic sanctions might be morally justified. Of the few writers who have considered this issue, the majority point to the analogies between economic sanctions and war and use the just war principles (just cause, proportionality etc.) as a framework within which to assess their moral permissibility. I argue that this is a mistake. The just war principles are derived from a set of complex and detailed arguments all planted firmly within the context of war. These arguments contain premises that, whilst they may hold true in the case of war, do not always hold true in the case of economic sanctions. Nevertheless, the rich just war tradition does offer a valuable starting point for theorising about economic sanctions and in the thesis I consider how the wider just war tradition might be brought to bear on the case of economic sanctions, beginning, not with the just war principles, but with the underlying arguments for those principles. In particular, I consider whether economic sanctions can be justified on the grounds that they are a form of self- or other-defence, that they are the ‘lesser evil’ and that they are a form of punishment. I argue that certain types of economic sanctions can be justified on the grounds that they are a form of self- or other- defence and that, in extreme circumstances, certain types of economic sanctions can be justified as the ‘lesser evil’. However, I argue that economic sanctions cannot be justified on the grounds of punishment. I also develop a ‘clean hands’ argument for economic sanctions that is unavailable to the just war theorist; I argue that where the goods and services to be supplied would contribute to human rights violations or other wrongful acts, there is a duty to impose economic sanctions to avoid complicity in this wrongdoing.
Supervisor: Brown, Campbell; Fabre, Cecile; Cripps, Elizabeth; Haksar, Vinit Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: economic sanctions ; ethics ; just war theory ; morality ; clean hands