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  1. The shape of humanitarian organizations
  2. The Fairness Principle: How the Veil of Ignorance Helps Test Fairness
  3. e-book We Must Take Sides; Or, the Principle of Action

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Some fear is expressed in France [and England] that this involves reopening of all colonial questions. Obviously it is not so intended. It applies clearly [to those] colonial claims which have been created by the war. That means the German colonies and any other colonies which may come under international consideration as a result of the war. The stipulation is that in the case of the German colonies the title is to be determined after the conclusion of the war by "impartial adjustment" based on certain principles.

These are of two kinds: 1 "equitable" claims; 2 the interests of the populations concerned. What are the "equitable" claims put forth by Great Britain and Japan, the two chief heirs of the German colonial empire, that the colonies cannot be returned to Germany? Because she will use them as submarine bases, because she will arm the blacks, because she uses the colonies as bases of intrigue, because she oppresses the natives. What are the "equitable" claims put forth by Germany?

That she needs access to tropical raw material, that she needs a field for the expansion of her population, that under the principles of the peace proposed, conquest gives her enemies no title to her colonies. What are the "interests of the populations? It would seem as if the principle involved in this proposition is that a colonial power acts not as owner of its colonies but as trustee for the natives and for the interests of the society of nations, that the terms on which the colonial administration is conducted are a matter of international concern and may legitimately be the subject of international inquiry, and that the peace conference may, therefore, write a code of colonial conduct binding upon [all] colonial powers.

The shape of humanitarian organizations

The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest cooperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her an unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development and national policy and assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under institutions of her own choosing; and, more than a welcome, assistance also of every kind that she may need and may herself desire.

The treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in the months to come will be the acid test of their goodwill, of their comprehension of her needs as distinguished from their own interests, and of their intelligent and unselfish sympathy. The first question is whether Russian territory is synonymous with territory belonging to the former Russian Empire. This is clearly not so because proposition 13 stipulates an independent Poland, a proposal which excludes the territorial reestablishment of the Empire.

What is recognized as valid for the Poles will certainly have to be recognized for the Finns, the Lithuanians, the Letts, and perhaps also for the Ukrainians. Since the formulating of this condition, these subject nationalities have emerged, and there can be no doubt that they will have to be granted an opportunity of free development.

The problem of these nationalities is complicated by two facts: 1 that they have conflicting claims; 2 that the evacuation called for in the proposal may be followed by Bolshevist revolutions in all of them.

The Fairness Principle: How the Veil of Ignorance Helps Test Fairness

The chief conflicts are: a between the Letts and Germans in Courland; b between the Poles and the Lithuanians on the northeast; c between the Poles and the White Ruthenians on the east; d between the Poles and the Ukrainians on the southeast and in eastern Galicia. In this whole borderland the relations of the German Poles [sic] to the other nationalities is roughly speaking that of landlord to peasant.

Therefore the evacuating of the territory, if it resulted in class war, would very probably also take the form of a conflict of nationalities. It is clearly to the interests of a good settlement that the real nation in each territory should be consulted rather than the ruling and possessing class.

This can mean nothing less than the [recognition] by the peace conference of a series of [de facto] governments representing Finns, Esths, Lithuanians, Ukrainians. This primary [act] of recognition should be conditional upon the calling of national assemblies for the creation of de facto governments as soon as the peace conference has drawn frontiers for these new states. The frontiers should be drawn so far as possible on ethnic lines, but in [every] case the right of unhampered economic [transit] should be reserved.

No dynastic ties with German [or] Austrian or Romanov princes should be permitted, and every inducement should be [given] to encourage federal [relations] between these new states. Under proposition 3 the economic sections of the treaty of Brest-Litovsk are obliterated, but this proposition should not be construed as forbidding a customs union, a monetary union, a railroad union, etc. Provision should also be made by which Great Russia can federate with these states on the same terms.

e-book We Must Take Sides; Or, the Principle of Action

As for Great Russia and Siberia, the peace conference might well send a message asking for the creation of a government sufficiently [representative] to speak for these territories. It should be understood that economic rehabilitation is offered provided a government carrying sufficient credentials can appear at the peace conference. The Allies should offer this provisional government any form of assistance it may need.

The possibility of extending this will exist when the Dardanelles are opened. The essence of the Russian problem then in the immediate future would seem to be: 1 the recognition of provisional governments; 2 assistance extended to and through these governments. The Caucasus should probably be treated as part of the problem of the Turkish Empire.

No information exists justifying an opinion on the proper policy in regard to Mohammedan Russia--that is, briefly, Central Asia. It may well be that some power will have to be given a limited mandate to act as protector. In any case the treaties of Brest-Litovsk and Bucharest must be canceled as palpably fraudulent. Provision must be made for the withdrawal of all German troops in Russia and the peace conference [will] have a clean slate on which to write a policy for all the Russian peoples.

Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and restored without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she enjoys in common with all other free nations. No other single act will serve as this will serve to restore confidence among the nations in the laws which they have themselves set and determined for the government of their relations with one another. Without this healing act the whole structure and validity of international law is forever impaired. The only problem raised here is in the word "restored. The principle that should be established is that in the case of Belgium there exists no distinction between "legitimate" and "illegitimate" destruction.

The initial act of invasion was illegitimate and therefore all the consequences of that act are of the same character. Among the consequences may be put the war debt of Belgium. The recognition of this principle would constitute "the healing act" of which the President speaks. All French territory should be freed and the invaded portions restored, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine, which has unsettled the peace of the world for nearly fifty years, should be righted in order that peace may once more be made secure in the interest of all.

In regard to the restoration of French territory it might well be argued that the invasion of northern France, being the result of the illegal act as regards Belgium, was in itself illegal. But the case is not perfect. As the world stood in , war between France and Germany was not in itself a violation of international law, and great insistence should be put upon keeping the Belgian case distinct and symbolic.

Thus Belgium might well, as indicated above, claim reimbursement, not only for destruction but for the cost of carrying on the war. France could not claim payment, it would seem, for more than the damage done to her northeastern departments. The status of Alsace-Lorraine was settled by the official statement issued a few days ago. It is to be restored completely to French sovereignty. Attention is called to the strong current of French opinion which claims "the boundaries of []" rather than of The territory claimed is the valley of the Saar with its coalfields.

No claim on grounds of nationality can be established, but the argument leans on the possibility of taking this territory in lieu of indemnity; it would seem to be a clear violation of the President's proposal. Attention is called also to the fact that no reference is made to status of Luxembourg. The best solution would seem to be a free choice by the [people of] Luxembourg themselves. A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly recognizable lines of nationality. This proposal is less than the Italian claim; less, of course, than the territory allotted by the treaty of London; less than the arrangement made between the Italian government and the Yugoslav state.

In the region of Trent the Italians claim a strategic rather than ethnic frontier. It should be noted in this connection that [Italy] and Germany will become neighbors if German Austria joins the German Empire. And if Italy obtains the best geographical frontier she will assume sovereignty over a large number of Germans. This is a violation of principle. But it may be argued that by drawing a sharp line along the crest of the Alps, Italy's security will be enormously enhanced and the necessity of heavy armaments reduced. It might, therefore, be provided that Italy should have her claim in the Trentino, but that the northern part, inhabited by Germans, should be completely autonomous and that the population should not be liable to military service in the Italian Army.

Italy could thus occupy the uninhabited Alpine peaks for military purposes, but would not govern the cultural life of the alien population to the south of her frontier. The other problems of the frontier are questions between Italy and Yugoslavia, Italy and the Balkans, Italy and Greece.

The agreement reached with Yugoslavs may well be allowed to stand, although it should be insisted for [the protection of] the hinterland that both Trieste and Fiume be free ports. This is [essential] to Bohemia, German Austria, Hungary, as well as to prosperity of the cities themselves. Italy appears in Balkan politics through her claim to a protectorate over Albania and the possession of Valona. But there is no social entity with a good that undergoes some sacrifice for its own good. There are only individual people, different individual people, with their own individual lives. Using one of these people for the benefit of others, uses him and benefits the others.

Nothing more. What happens is that something is done to him for the sake of others. Talk of an overall social good covers this up.

The Basics

Here Nozick makes things too easy for himself by ascribing to the utilitarian a belief in a social entity—as Rawls makes things too easy for himself by saying that the utilitarian argument depends on fusing or conflating persons. For the utilitarian may simply hold that the best explanation for the rationality of a given person incurring some cost for herself in order to avoid some greater cost for herself is the unrestricted rationality of minimizing net costs or maximizing net benefits.

According to this utilitarian, we do not have to move from the principle of individual choice to the principle of social choice. For, we start with the unrestricted rationality of minimizing costs or maximizing benefits ; and the principle of individual choice is simply the application of that principle of social choice to the special case in which there is only one agent who is also the one subject of benefits and costs. To counter the contention that, at the outset, practical rationality calls for the minimization of net costs or the maximization of net benefits , Rawls and Nozick need to hold that what makes it practically rational for a given individual to incur some cost to herself or forego some benefit for herself is the avoidance of some greater cost to herself or the attainment of some greater benefit for herself.