The question of value-added: a response to Burke

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In this response, I argue that while Burke is to be commended for rejecting moral relativism in favor of wanting to change the world for the better, his ‘security cosmopolitanism’ is – in its current form – so sweeping that it raises the familiar question: what is the value-added? In particular, I argue that Burke’s theory suffers from viewing all interactions that impinge on security (here in a sense of someone/something being or feeling secure) as security action. Similarly, it is analytically weak to consider all actors whose actions affect the security of others as security actors. I suggest that Burke’s theory would benefit from operating with a much narrower understanding of security action, whereby the concept is tantamount to the use of exceptional measures. Cosmopolitan thinking, including on the importance of human rights, could then be brought to bear on the questions of when such action is morally required, by whom, and to what end.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-166
Number of pages5
JournalCritical Studies on Security
Issue number2
Early online date2 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • just securitization theory
  • security
  • morally required
  • morally permissible
  • human rights


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