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Title: The Ethics of Revolt: Just War, Moral Agency, and Civil Conflict
Authors: Barron, Tiffany
Advisors: Bass, Gary
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: China
Civil War
Subjects: Political science
Asian studies
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: What makes an armed revolution just or unjust? Do the moral principles and laws that have traditionally governed interstate war apply to intrastate conflict, and if so, how? Why are some revolutionaries and rebels who use armed force more ethically consistent in the use of that violence than others? In this dissertation, I answer these questions by offering a theory of armed revolution that draws on a Thomistic-Aristotelian ethic of justice and virtue. I then use this normative framework as the basis for an empirical study of four revolutionary and warlord leaders in early 20th century China. In chapter 1, I provide an overview of the literature on just war theory and the empirical political science literature on violence against civilians in civil conflict. In chapter 2, I discuss the jus ad bellum principles that apply before the revolution begins, placing a heavy emphasis on the political community and the common good. I make the claim that there may be a communal right to revolution, but not an individual right. Chapter 3 builds on the discussion to address jus in bello, the principles rebels should follow once they are already at war. In this chapter, I defend a strict understanding of noncombatant immunity. In chapter 4, I link just war theory to virtue ethics, drawing out the latter’s implications for the formation of just rebel leadership. Chapter 5 turns this more explicitly into a framework for causal analysis, lays out my case selection strategy, and previews how I will use principles of Bayesian reasoning in the next chapter’s analysis. Chapter 6 provides a case study of Feng Yuxiang, a prominent Chinese warlord in the early 20th century who tried to cultivate personal virtue, which, I argue, helped him to lead in ways that were relatively less harmful to civilians. In chapter 7, I introduce two shadow cases, one of Sun Yat-sen’s attempt to gain control over Guangdong Province in the 1920s, and one of Zhang Zongchang and Zhang Jingyao, two men who are remembered as among the period’s more vicious warlords. Chapter 8 concludes with a summary and implications.
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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