PWAD 272 Paper 2

Submitted By golfer2103
Words: 3263
Pages: 14

PWAD 272 Paper 2
(Going off of prompt 5 from the second set of paper topics sent out by Professor Boxill) Revolution. This is something in today’s modern world with conflicts arising from seemingly every corner and nation of the world, we have gotten used to hearing about and has almost become expected or anticipated in most cases. From a philosophical standpoint, you can find a plethora of differing opinions and ways to look at revolutions and to justify them, and the actions of those participating in them, all depending on where you look. There is no shortage of information or argumentation on the topic. In this essay, I want to focus on one well-known philosopher in particular, Allen Buchanan. Buchanan analyses, in depth, revolutions and the ethics associated with them in his article “The Ethics of Revolution and Its Implications for the Ethics of Intervention,” which is part of a larger journal compilation, Philosophy and Public Affairs, in which many philosophers and philosophically inclined writers from various disciplines present their arguments and opinions. In a particularly interesting section of his paper (section G), Buchanan discusses two “related but importantly different principles” (Buchanan 310) of legitimacy of an aspiring revolutionary leadership, or ARL, in terms of its relationship with the justification of the use of coercion and non-justification of actions such as terrorism in order to gain collective participation in the revolution. In this paper, I will critically analyze Buchanan’s argument to deem if it is, in fact, convincing and apply it to cases in which the actions Buchanan calls justifiable would result in more deaths or a lower chance of success than those he deems unjustifiable. Before Buchanan begins his argumentation concerning the legitimacy of an ARL and the ethics of their practices and actions, he lays out some basic guidelines for the hypothetical situation in question. I feel the need to lay out these same guidelines in order to proceed with my critical analysis of Buchanan’s argument. These are the ARL is under conditions of Resolute Severe Tyranny in which the tyrannical authority “has steadfastly refused to reform and gives every indication of being willing to use the harshest means available to stay in power” (Buchanan 308). Therefore, the ARL is “not gratuitously coercing and manipulating its fellows” (Buchanan307) but “is constrained to do so by conditions beyond its control” (Buchanan 307-308) meaning conditions that the Resolute Severe Tyranny or regime have created and put in place. The ARL consists of people “who are committed to overthrowing an extremely unjust regime” (Buchanan 308) and they are “attempting to satisfy the laudable constraint of the Reasonable Likelihood of Success Principle” (Buchanan 308) or in other words, “it is taking seriously the idea that one should not engage in revolution or any sort of large-scale violence unless one has a reasonable prospect of success” (Buchanan 308). The final guideline is that “the ARL has, without success, already exhausted less morally problematic strategies for solving the widespread participation collective action problem” (Buchanan 308). Buchanan establishes his position by stating one might argue that for a state to be “justified in conscripting soldiers” (Buchanan 308), it must be legitimate. However, on “any reasonable account of legitimacy, the ARL is not legitimate” (Buchanan 308). It did not gain legitimacy as a state from consent, democratic processes, or through lawful transfer of legitimacy from a legitimate authority such as one government lawfully and rightfully succeeding another. Buchanan says it also is not legitimate on functionalist accounts of legitimacy meaning that it does not perform “adequately the justifying functions of states, such as providing security and basic justice” (Buchanan 308). The ARL would not have the capacity to perform these types of functions until after it came to power,…