Basic Challenges for Governance in Emergencies

JUSTICE, RESPONSIBILITY, AND RECONCILIATION IN THE WAKE OF CONFLICT, A. Speight & A. MacLachlan, eds., Springer, Forthcoming

Osgoode CLPE Research Paper No. 3/2012

23 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2012

Date Written: February 7, 2012

Abstract

What are emergencies and why do they matter? In this chapter (in its penultimate version), I seek to outline the morally significant features of the concept of emergency, and demonstrate how these features generate corresponding first- and second-order challenges and responsibilities for those in a position to do something about them. In section A, I contend that emergencies are situations in which there is a risk of serious harm and a need to react urgently if that harm is to be averted or minimized. These conceptual features matter morally, since it is precisely to them that those who invoke emergencies to justify otherwise impermissible actions tend to appeal. The basic first-order challenge facing emergency responders is two-fold. It is, first, to identify how these features shape circumstances of action in ways that affect (or do not affect) which reasons for action and which corresponding courses of conduct are justifiably available to them. In situations when emergency responders are compelled to make authoritative determinations due to significant contestability and indeterminacies in the contours or materialization of the said features, their challenge is then also to make these determinations legitimately. In section B, I argue that second-order challenges having to do with the foreseeability of emergencies, the value(s) of exposure to them, and their preventability further compound the predicament of emergency responders. I conclude, in section C, by saying a few words about one last morally salient feature shared by many, though not all, emergencies considered in the chapter — namely, their public dimension.

Keywords: concept of emergency, public emergencies, needs, harm, urgency, risk, foreseeability, preventability, indeterminacy, governance, state, authority, justification, excuse

Suggested Citation

Tanguay-Renaud, François, Basic Challenges for Governance in Emergencies (February 7, 2012). JUSTICE, RESPONSIBILITY, AND RECONCILIATION IN THE WAKE OF CONFLICT, A. Speight & A. MacLachlan, eds., Springer, Forthcoming, Osgoode CLPE Research Paper No. 3/2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2000790

François Tanguay-Renaud (Contact Author)

Osgoode Hall Law School, York University ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

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