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Economic Sanctions

  1. Joel H. Rosenthal

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee801

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Rosenthal, J. H. 2013. Economic Sanctions. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013


Economic sanctions are an instrument of foreign policy. They are used as a means to achieve particular goals. Therefore an ethical assessment of economic sanctions relies on evaluating the goal being sought in each case as well as a comprehensive analysis of the impact of the policy chosen (see consequentialism). Drawing upon the literature of economists, international relations theorists, and just war philosophers (Baldwin 1985; Nye 2011; Gordon 2010), it is evident that an ethical analysis of economic sanctions includes three essential questions. First, is the goal just? Second, do sanctions work as the appropriate means to achieve the goal? And third, are sanctions the most just and humane policy option available?


  • business ethics;
  • economics;
  • ethics in economics;
  • practical (applied) ethics;
  • foreign policy