The Least of All Possible Evils: Humanitarian Violence from Arendt to Gaza

Weizman, Eyal. 2011. The Least of All Possible Evils: Humanitarian Violence from Arendt to Gaza. London: Verso Books. ISBN 9781844676477 [Book]

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Abstract or Description

A groundbreaking exploration of the philosophy underpinning Western humanitarian and military intervention. The principle of the “lesser evil”—the acceptability of pursuing one exceptional course of action in order to prevent a greater injustice—has long been a cornerstone of Western ethical philosophy. From its roots in classical ethics and Christian theology, to Hannah Arendt’s exploration of the work of the Jewish Councils during the Nazi regime, Weizman explores its development in three key transformations of the problem: the defining intervention of Médecins Sans Frontières in mid-1980s Ethiopia; the separation wall in Israel-Palestine; and international and human rights law in Bosnia, Gaza and Iraq. Drawing on a wealth of new research, Weizman charts the latest manifestation of this age-old idea. In doing so he shows how military and political intervention acquired a new “humanitarian” acceptability and legality in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

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2013, Il minore dei mali possibili, Rome: Nottetempo, (Italian)
2013, Najmanje od svih mogućih zala, Zagreb: Multimedijalni institute (Serbo-Croatian)
2009, Il Male Minore, Rome: Nottetempo (a short version, Italian)
reviews of this early edition:

For more than 20 reviews in academic journals and magazines including BookForum (By Samuel Moyn), Architectural Review, LA Stampa, Jadaliyya, Radical Philosophy, Antipode, Theory and Event, The American Interest, see:

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Research Office > REF2014
Visual Cultures
Visual Cultures > Centre for Research Architecture




Funding bodyFunder IDGrant Number
graham foundation for art and architectureUNSPECIFIED

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Date Deposited:

19 Nov 2012 16:29

Last Modified:

07 Jul 2017 15:21


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