By Hartmut Mayer, Henri Vogt
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Additional info for A Responsible Europe?: Ethical Foundations of EU External Affairs (Palgrave studies in European Union Politics)
I believe that both premise (i) and premise (ii) are false. Consider the arguments usually given in support of the first premise. Once it has been granted that institutional agency does make sense (which point must of necessity be granted if we suppose states to be full-blown institutional agents), why should we not admit that institutions other than the state can take effective action to influence international affairs? 17 There is simply no need to attend to moral issues in international contexts because all requirements of morality – including matters of citizenship and distributive justice – can and should be solved domestically.
Is it realistic to expect them to do so? Having said that, it is difficult to see why institutions should not take moral reasons for action into account if they are perfectly capable of acting upon those reasons. Consider, once again, the case of the drowning child. It is incumbent upon an individual agent to try to rescue the child if she is the only one in the vicinity and doing so does not put her at risk. Now if it is institutional action that can rescue the drowning child, why would the mere fact that an institution rather than an individual is to act render the duty of rescue invalid?
Stated in such a general form, it is not shared by too many people, although some forms of consequentialism may actually accept it. But when limited to situations in which somebody suffers a serious deprivation or loss, it gains considerably more support. 30 These four principles, suggested by Miller and Barry, do not cover all kinds of normative reasons that we might have for allocating duties in certain ways – not even if we take them in combination. One problem is that they have been put forward to cover situations in which someone has suffered or could potentially suffer serious and immediate harm (as Miller or Barry were only interested in remedial responsibilities arising in cases of extreme need).