My work on the alternatives to war focuses on the ethical questions raised by the leading international, non-military responses to aggression and mass atrocities. These include economic sanctions, diplomacy, nonviolence, military assistance, and positive incentives. It is prompted by the question: if states are not to go to war, what should they do instead? Much of this work was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (Ref AH/LOO3783/1).
James Pattison (2018)The Alternatives to War: From Sanctions to Nonviolence (Oxford: Oxford University Press). - A discount flyer is here. - An inteview with me about the book for the Carnegie Council is here. - This book is the culmination of my work on the alternatives to war - Abstract: This book examines the normative issues raised by measures ranging from comprehensive economic sanctions, diplomacy, and positive incentives, to criminal prosecutions, nonviolent resistance, accepting refugees, and arming rebels. For instance, given the indiscriminateness of many sanctions regimes, are sanctions any better than war? Should states avoid 'megaphone diplomacy' and adopt more subtle measures? What, if anything, can nonviolent methods such as civilian defence and civilian peacekeeping do in the face of a ruthless opponent? Is it a serious concern that positive incentives can appear to reward aggressors? Overall, Pattison provides a comprehensive account of the ethics of the alternatives to war. In doing so, he argues that the case for war is weaker and the case for many of the alternatives is stronger than commonly thought. The upshot is that, when reacting to mass atrocities and aggression, states are generally required to pursue the alternatives to war rather than military action. The book concludes that this has significant implications for pacifism, just war theory, and the responsibility to protect doctrine.
James Pattison (2017) “Unarmed Bodyguards to the Rescue? The Ethics of Nonviolent Intervention”, in Michael Gross and Tamar Meisels (eds), Soft War: The Ethics of Unarmed Conflict (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). - This paper explores (and defends) the ethical case for using civilian peacekeeping.
James Pattison (2017). “Guns Vs Troops: The Ethics of Supplying Arms”, in Aidan Hehir and Robert Murray (eds) Protecting Human Rights in the 21st Century (London: Routledge) - This chapter compares the ethics of arming rebels to the case for military intervention.
James Pattison (2015) "The Ethics of Diplomatic Criticism: The Responsibility to Protect, Just War Theory, and Presumptive Last Resort”, European Journal of International Relations, 21/4: 935–57. This paper is ‘Gold Open Access’. - Abstract: This article presents the ethical case for diplomatic criticism as a response to mass atrocities and serious external aggression. It argues, in short, that states have a moral duty to criticise the offending parties. More specifically, it argues that diplomatic criticism is often a plausible and preferable alternative to other means of addressing serious external aggression and mass atrocities (such as war, economic sanctions and other diplomatic measures). It also argues that diplomatic criticism is often preferable to doing nothing, and that even if other means are undertaken, states should engage in diplomatic criticism as well. There are two subsidiary aims of the article. The first is to reject some of the worries surrounding international hypocrisy — I aim to show that even hypocritical diplomatic criticism may be obligatory. The second is to highlight the impact on Just War Theory of considering in more detail the ethical issues raised by the alternatives to war, such as diplomatic criticism, and, more specifically, to present a new account of the last resort principle, which I call ‘Presumptive Last Resort’.
James Pattison (2015) “The Ethics of Arming Rebels”, Ethics & International Affairs, 29/4: 455–71. Also available from CUP here (copyright CUP). - Abstract: Despite the popularity of arming rebels as a foreign policy option, there is very little, if any, detailed engagement with the ethical issues surrounding the practice. There is a growing literature on the ethical issues surrounding civil wars and, more specifically, the conditions for engaging in just rebellion; but the focus of this literature is largely on the question of the justifiability of the rebels themselves in engaging in civil war and their conduct when doing so, rather than the permissibility of the arming of rebels by other agents. It is precisely this issue that I want to address here. Overall, I argue that the process should be generally eschewed. More specifically, this article seeks to establish that arming rebels is generally impermissible and only exceptionally morally permissible (even, as I will argue, when rebels are engaged in unjust wars). The former, far more restrictive claim will be established in the first part of the article. The latter, more permissive claim will be established in the second part of the article.
James Pattison (2015) “The Morality of Sanctions", Social Philosophy and Policy, 32/1: 192-215.- Abstract: Economic sanctions have been subject to extensive criticism. They are often seen as indiscriminate, intending the harms that they inflict, and using the suffering of the innocent as a means to enact policy change. Indeed, some reject outright the permissibility of economic sanctions. By contrast, in this essay, I defend the case for economic sanctions. I argue that sanctions are not necessarily morally problematic and, in doing so, argue that sanctions are less morally problematic than is often claimed. I go on to argue that sanctions may sometimes be morally preferable to the leading alternatives and, in particular, to wars and doing nothing. This is in part because sanctions are more likely to distribute fairly the currently inevitable harms to innocents of tackling aggression and mass atrocities. In the final part of the essay, I draw on this point to argue more generally that that we should often favor a “Harm-Distribution Approach” in the ethics of war and peace.