HCM 4012 Week 1 Assignment 3 Legal Dilemma
Imagine that you are the captain of a ship located halfway between several people drowning. You have a duty towards each of them but are unable to save everyone. In such a situation, Valentin Jeutner argues, you are confronted with not only a moral but possibly also a legal dilemma. The notion of a legal dilemma challenges the assumption that international law is a coherent system providing a binary classification for each action as either legal or illegal. A legal dilemma arises when an action is both legal and illegal at the same time.
The impulsive reaction is that such a situation should not exist because it would impose an impossible or unfair demand on an actor. Jeutner, however, responds that “conflicts cannot be presumed not to exist merely because it might seem desirable that they should not”. Necessarily, acknowledging a problem is the first step towards finding a solution. The book develops a concise and compelling argument to demonstrate the plausibility and relevance of the concept of a legal dilemma. It also gives its readers a taste of the practical use that can be drawn from adding this concept to their conceptual toolbox. The argument is structured by three questions: First, what is a legal dilemma? Second, can legal dilemmas exist in contemporary international law? And third, by whom and how should a legal dilemma be decided?
Jeutner defines a legal dilemma as an irresolvable and unavoidable conflict between legal norms, where obeying or applying one norm necessarily entails the undue impairment of another. He makes the complex concept palatable by breaking it down into its core components and outlining each element separately. As the book’s title suggests, the central element of the concept is irresolvability. A conflict is irresolvable when it “cannot and/or should not be resolved by means of international law’s norm conflict resolution devices”. In the second part of the book, Jeutner systematically examines conflict resolution devices and identifies several configurations in which none of them work – thus demonstrating the possibility of a legal dilemma. Less central to the concept is the notion of unavoidability. For the purposes of the definition of a legal dilemma, unavoidability covers not only conflicts that “could not” but also conflicts that “simply have not” been avoided (which arguably comes down simply to conflicts that exist and are not merely hypothetical).
One main strength of the book is the way in which Jeutner uses a breadth of different empirical examples for illustration, without ever relying on them to substantiate his argument. The examples provide interesting puzzles and draw on various areas of international law, including humanitarian and maritime law. They make the book accessible and clarify the relevance of the concept for international politics. Yet the argument does not stand and fall with claims about any particular legal conflict. Instead, the examples are used in the way of thought-experiments: ornaments to the stringent line of argument that demonstrates the possibility of a legal dilemma by way of logical deduction.
Discussion Questions (DQ)
• Initial responses to the DQ should address all components of the questions asked, include a minimum of one scholarly source, and be at least 250 words.
• Successful responses are substantive (i.e., add something new to the discussion, engage others in the discussion, well-developed idea) and include at least one scholarly source.
• One or two sentence responses, simple statements of agreement or “good post,” and responses that are off-topic will not count as substantive. Substantive responses should be at least 150 words.
• I encourage you to incorporate the readings from the week (as applicable) into your responses.
• Your initial responses to the mandatory DQ do not count toward participation and are graded separately.
• In addition to the DQ responses, you must post at least one reply to peers (or me) on three separate days, for a total of three replies.
• Participation posts do not require a scholarly source/citation (unless you cite someone else’s work).
• Part of your weekly participation includes viewing the weekly announcement and attesting to watching it in the comments. These announcements are made to ensure you understand everything that is due during the week.
APA Format and Writing Quality
• Familiarize yourself with APA format and practice using it correctly. It is used for most writing assignments for your degree. Visit the Writing Center in the Student Success Center, under the Resources tab in LoudCloud for APA paper templates, citation examples, tips, etc. Points will be deducted for poor use of APA format or absence of APA format (if required).
• Cite all sources of information! When in doubt, cite the source. Paraphrasing also requires a citation.
• I highly recommend using the APA Publication Manual, 6th edition.
Use of Direct Quotes
• I discourage overutilization of direct quotes in DQs and assignments at the Masters’ level and deduct points accordingly.
• As Masters’ level students, it is important that you be able to critically analyze and interpret information from journal articles and other resources. Simply restating someone else’s words does not demonstrate an understanding of the content or critical analysis of the content.
• It is best to paraphrase content and cite your source.
• For assignments that need to be submitted to LopesWrite, please be sure you have received your report and Similarity Index (SI) percentage BEFORE you do a “final submit” to me.
• Once you have received your report, please review it. This report will show you grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors that can easily be fixed. Take the extra few minutes to review instead of getting counted off for these mistakes.
• Review your similarities. Did you forget to cite something? Did you not paraphrase well enough? Is your paper made up of someone else’s thoughts more than your own?
• Visit the Writing Center in the Student Success Center, under the Resources tab in LoudCloud for tips on improving your paper and SI score.
• The university’s policy on late assignments is 10% penalty PER DAY LATE. This also applies to late DQ replies.
• Please communicate with me if you anticipate having to submit an assignment late. I am happy to be flexible, with advance notice. We may be able to work out an extension based on extenuating circumstances.
• If you do not communicate with me before submitting an assignment late, the GCU late policy will be in effect.
• I do not accept assignments that are two or more weeks late unless we have worked out an extension.
• As per policy, no assignments are accepted after the last day of class. Any assignment submitted after midnight on the last day of class will not be accepted for grading.
• Communication is so very important. There are multiple ways to communicate with me:
o Questions to Instructor Forum: This is a great place to ask course content or assignment questions. If you have a question, there is a good chance one of your peers does as well. This is a public forum for the class.
o Individual Forum: This is a private forum to ask me questions or send me messages. This will be checked at least once every 24 hours.