How Democracies Justify Going to War

JMC fellows Daniel Kapust and Katherine Robiadek were published the journal Democracy and Security. They examine how democracies’ justification of war compares to the way other regimes justify war.


Rawls on agreeing to disagree: How democracies differ from non-democracies in justifying war


By Daniel Kapust, Travis Nelson, and Katherine Robiadek
From Democracy and Security

Abstract: We use Rawls’s account of public reason and the Law of Peoples to test two hypotheses: democracies are more likely to invoke self-defense in justifications than non-democracies, and democracies are more likely to invoke human rights in justifications than non-democracies. Through an analysis of war justifications since 1875, we find that although democracies and non-democracies are similarly likely to use self-defense as a justification, democracies are more likely to justify war through human rights. Institutions and values centering on rights that promote domestic public justification also promote justifications compatible with those values and institutions at the international level

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Katherine RobiadekKatherine M. Robiadek is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her first field of study is political theory with a second field in comparative politics and a minor in the history of modern European philosophy along with a graduate certificate in European Studies. Her dissertation focuses on early modern political thought and major support for her scholarly training in this area has been provided by U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships. She is an active member of the academic honors societies, Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi.

Katherine is now working to start-up a scholarly forum—the Graduate Early Modern Student Society (GEMSS)—as a registered student organization to support graduate student research on early modernity as well as associated professional development and peer mentoring efforts. She is also a member of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Teaching Academy and an Advisory Board Member for the American Political Science Association supported Consortium for Inter-Campus Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Research. As a co-designer and co-instructor for the graduate seminar, “College Classroom: How to Teach Inclusively for Educating a Diverse Nation,” she is also actively involved in the Delta Program’s research, teaching, and learning community.

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Daniel KapustDaniel Kapust is a Professor of Political Theory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005, and came to UW after six years in the Department of Political Science at The University of Georgia. Kapust’s research focuses on the history of political thought, especially Roman, Florentine, early modern, and 18th century, along with rhetoric, empire, classical receptions, democratic theory, and the republican tradition.

His first book, Republicanism, Rhetoric, and Roman Political Thought: Sallust, Livy, and Tacitus, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2011; his second book, Flattery in the History of Political Thought: That Glib and Oily Art, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2018. He has published or had accepted for publication articles and chapters on Hobbes, Machiavelli, Rousseau, Cicero, Sallust, Livy, Lucretius, Smith, Tacitus, and 18th century American political thought, along with topics including flattery, republicanism, rhetoric, censorship, and political fear. His work has been published in the American Political Science ReviewJournal of Politics, Contemporary Political TheoryPolitical TheoryPolitical Studies, History of Political Thought, Journal of the History of Ideas, Democracy and Security, and the European Journal of Political Theory.

He is currently working on two new book projects: one on Lucretius and early modern political thought (The Lucretian Moment: Lucretius and the Politics of Early Modernity), the other on imperial republics (The Tragedy of an Imperial Republic). He is also the Director of the Political Economy, Philosophy, and Politics Certificate Program

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