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No peace without injustice: Hobbes and Locke on the ethics of peacemaking

  • Jamie Mayerfeld (a1)

Is the demand for justice likelier to cause or to prevent war? Hobbes expresses sympathy for the former view and Locke for the latter. However, they both reason their way toward an intermediate position, symbolized by the impartial judge in Locke's theory and the arbitrator in Hobbes's theory. Peace is possible when we create a process that resolves disputes according to widely intuitive principles of equality and reciprocity. This requires, however, that we refrain from imposing our particular interpretations of justice, and that we tolerate the possibility of unjust outcomes. Hobbes and Locke's reasoning shows us why international institutions are needed to serve as an impartial judge for the resolution of civil and international conflicts. They rebut persistent skepticism about the fitness of international institutions to promote peace and justice. Recent scholarship on ethno-political conflict confirms the wisdom of their analysis.

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International Theory
  • ISSN: 1752-9719
  • EISSN: 1752-9727
  • URL: /core/journals/international-theory
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