Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Stephen Turner, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael Morris, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Colin Heydt, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sidney Axinn, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Hugh LaFollette, Ph.D.


Philosophy of War, Just War Theory, Humanitarian War, War Ethics, HMI


Since the end of the Cold War, traditional justifications for war have diminished in relevance and importance, while the use of Humanitarian Military Interventions (HMI) has proliferated, to the point that formerly traditional wars – e.g. Afghanistan and Iraq invasions – have become retroactively redefined as HMIs. While HMI suffers from a number of problems, from international law to historical track record, its proponents have managed to turn aside all arguments by claiming they represent either statistical outliers, improper implementation, or at best indicate a need for a certain degree of fine-tuning. Crucially, the validity of the HMI practice is never brought into question. In order to attempt to break this dialectic stalemate, this dissertation recasts HMI as a Kuhnian paradigm. Doing so provides for a better understanding of HMI as a holistic Weltanschauung, and allows the problems of HMI to be understood as anomalies. Unlike arguments, anomalies need not engage with every discrete position held by the paradigm. Instead, they serve as a direct demonstration of the untenability of a position, as evidenced by systemic failure to produce the desired results. Consequently, the paradigm approach allows for a binary resolution to the problems of HMI: either the anomalies can be explained by the paradigm, or the paradigm has failed. The present analysis begins with an examination of paradigms and their structures, and then follows the history and context of HMI is considered from a philosophical and historical perspectives. Then, the structure of HMI as a paradigm is unpacked, with the attendant ends, means, justifications, and implications. Finally, four categories of HMI anomalies are presented, leading to the conclusion that the HMI paradigm is a failed one.