Justifying violence

Communicative ethics and the use of force in Kosovo

By Naomi Head

Justifying violence

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1698-7
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £27.50
  • Published Date: July 2017
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Theory of warfare & military science, Ethics & Moral Philosophy, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Peace, PHILOSOPHY / Ethics & Moral Philosophy, Theory of warfare & military science, Politics
  • Series: New Approaches to Conflict Analysis


When is the use of force for humanitarian purposes legitimate? The book examines this question through one of the most controversial examples of humanitarian intervention in the post Cold War period: the 1999 NATO intervention in Kosovo. Justifying Violence applies a critical theoretical approach to an interrogation of the communicative practices which underpin claims to legitimacy for the use of force by actors in international politics. Drawing on the theory of communicative ethics, the book develops an innovative conceptual framework which contributes a critical communicative dimension to the question of legitimacy that extends beyond the moral and legal approaches so often applied to the intervention in Kosovo. The empirical application of communicative ethics offers a provocative and nuanced account which contests conventional interpretations of the legitimacy of NATO's intervention.


'Naomi Head has producedan original and compelling argument that brings practice back to the CriticalTheory of Habermas, rebutting claims that it has little to say aboutcontemporary moral and ethical debates. She pushes constructivism beyond theanalysis of norms to an examination of how to better engage in communicativeethics and nudges debates about good international citizenship or theResponsibility to Protect toward the importance of procedural legitimacy indecisionsmaking about the use of force. Through an examination of NATO's'legitimate' but 'illegal' intervention in Kosovo, she reveals the processes ofexclusion from dialogue, the lack of policy coherence and the missedopportunities for a peaceful settlement. In response to the continuing sceptismabout the role of language at the international level, she shows why legitimacyand justification matter. This excellent book should be required reading notonly for scholars but policymakers confronted with life and death decisionsabout the use of force.'
Professor K.M. Fierke, School of International Relations, St.Andrews


Contents Preface Acknowledgements Abbreviations Introduction Part I 1 Locating Kosovo and legitimacy 2 Putting out the fire while the coals still burn: Kosovo prior to 1999 3 Communicative action in International Relations Part II 4 The Habermasian project: dialogue as normative grounds and object of critique 5 The communicative imperatives 6 Applying the communicative imperatives: debating Kosovo 7 Conclusion Bibliography


Naomi Head is Lecturer in Politics at the University of Glasgow

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