Debating IR

Probing the philosophical underpinnings of the international system and anything else of interest.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Public Goods Liberalism

Public Goods Liberalism examines the dynamics of group decision making. At the international level, this type of liberalism is interested in things like security and pollution that are positives or negatives for everyone. It is important who will bear the costs of both public goods and public bads.

Public Goods Liberalism is also concerned with the private gains that each party can expect to receive as the result of a decision. This is particularly important in security decisions, as countries that are closer to the action will receive greater benefits than those further away.

When applied to the need for collective action in Kosovo, Public Goods Liberalism can help to explain why three European actors eventually placed their support behind the bombing campaign. For France, the public good was a sort of pan-europeanism. For Italy, it was preventing a refugee crisis. For Germany, it was a desire to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and also a desire to shed the legacy of the Second World War.

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