ARTICLES

RECENT ARTICLES AND CHAPTERS

"Healthcare: Between a Human and a Conventional Right," Economics and Philosophy, forthcoming.

Abstract: One of the most prevalent rationales for public healthcare policies is a human right to healthcare. Governments are the typical duty bearers, but they differ vastly in their capacity to help those vulnerable to serious health problems and those with severe disabilities. A right to healthcare is out of the reach of many developing economies that struggle to provide the most basic services to their citizens. If human rights to provision of such goods exist, then governments would be violating rights without doing anything wrong. I argue that such variable ability to provide healthcare depends not only on financial resources, but on institutional capacity, and that the latter represents a more fundamental challenge to the existence of a human right to healthcare than previously recognized. This challenge does not imply that government has no obligations to protect and improve the health of their citizens, but that it is best to think of such obligations as generated by conventional rights, namely rights arising from local legal and social conventions, which require governments to pursue health-related moral goals such as reducing suffering, closing opportunity gaps for the disadvantaged, and preventing the spread of contagious diseases. We need not think of such moral goals in terms of human rights.

"The International Rule of Law," Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, forthcoming.

Abstract: There is wide agreement that the decentralized and consensual nature of international law, and the paucity of dispute resolution forums and of administrative and enforcement organs means that domestic rule of law requirements cannot be simply transplanted to the international realm. For example, it is more difficult to identify the public officials in international law whose arbitrary power must be restrained. The requirements of an international rule of law must be interpreted and specified for the very different context of international law. I argue that one of the main goals of an international rule of the law is the protection of individual and state autonomy from the arbitrary interference of international institutions and that the best way to codify this protection is through constitutional rules restraining the reach of international law into the internal affairs of a state. State autonomy does not have any intrinsic value or moral status of its own. Its value is derivative, resulting from the role it plays as the most efficient means of protecting autonomy for individuals and groups. Therefore, the goal of protecting state autonomy form the encroachment of international law will have to be constrained by, and balanced against, the more fundamental goal of an international rule of law, the protection of the autonomy of individual persons, best realized through the entrenchment of basic human rights.

"International Law as a Hartian Legal System?" Ratio Juris, forthcoming.

Abstract: H.L.A. Hart proposed one of the most influential accounts of law, according to which law is a union of primary rules, which guide the behavior of the law’s subjects, and secondary rules, which guide officials in recognizing, changing and interpreting primary rules. Writing at the end of the 1950s, Hart had serious doubts that international law meets the necessary criteria for a legal system. But there are several reasons to reconsider his position. One is that international law has undertaken a tremendous amount of growth and change since the 1950s. Second, Hart himself may have been less than judicious in applying his own criteria to international law, or so I will argue. In particular, by denying the existence of an international rule of recognition, he may have mischaracterized the nature of an international legal order in which such a rule was already operating at the time his view was taking shape.

"Skeptical Challenges to International Law" (with David Lefkowitz) Philosophy Compass, 13:8 (2018).

Abstract: International and domestic law offer a study in contrasts: states' legal obligations often depend on their consent to specific international legal norms, whereas domestic law applies to individuals with or without their consent, enforcement in international law is weak, and for many international treaties non-existent, while states spend considerable resources to create centralized coercive enforcement mechanisms, and international law is characterized by much less institutional differentiation and specialization of functions that domestic legal systems are. These differences have invited a number of skeptical challenges to international law, three of which we explore in this essay. The first points to one or more of the deviations of international law’s institutional structure from that of a modern state’s legal system as a basis for denying that international law is really ‘law.’ Central to the debates over international law’s status as law are concerns about whether and why the concepts of law inherited from domestic legal systems should serve as the blueprint for theorizing law in general, and international law in particular.

The second skeptical challenge targets international law’s legitimacy. It claims that we lack reasons to treat international legal norms, or the exercise of political power by international institutions, as anything other than an attempt by states to advance their national interests. If this challenge succeeds, states and other subjects of international law have merely prudential reasons to comply with it rather than a moral duty to obey it. Following a brief description of recent debates over how we ought to understand the concept of legitimacy when used to assess international political practices or global governance, we survey several possible bases for a moral duty to obey or respect international law. These include state consent, instrumental accounts of legitimate authority, and global democracy.

The third set of challenges focuses on the relationship between state sovereignty and international law. International rules and institutions often make demands for reform affecting the domestic law of a state in order to elicit compliance with international law. Skeptics argue that the rule of international law is incompatible with states’ political self-determination. Regardless of whether their defense of this claim ultimately succeeds, thoughtful engagement with it may well require us to rethink some of the fundamental concepts and normative ideals in political philosophy, including state sovereignty, democracy, individual rights, political authority, and political obligation.

"Boundaries, Subjections to Laws and Affected Interests," Oxford Handbook of Freedom, (Oxford University Press, 2018).

“A Legal Conventionalist Approach to Pollution,” Law and Philosophy, 35:4, 2016.

"Negative Duties, The WTO and the Harm Argument," Political Studies, 63:2, 2015.