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Wen-Chin Lung

Title of thesis

Non-Consequentialist Approach to Solve The Humanitarian Dilemma


This thesis considers the humanitarian assistance dilemma: when non-governmental humanitarian aid agencies can reduce harm and preserve more lives by withdrawing aid or reallocating aid to other places, should they stop providing the aid and withdraw assistance from current aid recipients? The existing literature on humanitarian assistance is mainly discussed in the simple consequentialist language of aid utility, cost effectiveness, and the maximisation of harm-reduction. In doing so, it largely suggests that aid organisations should leave. This thesis rejects this approach. Instead, it defends the ‘Non-consequentialist Approach’ to the humanitarian assistance dilemma. This account highlights three non-consequentialist considerations and suggests that humanitarian aid agencies stay and continue to provide assistance. These are: (1) humanitarian aid workers’ special relationships with those whom they are assisting, (2) humanitarian aid agencies’ responsibility to assist those whom they have made vulnerable, and (3) humanitarian aid agencies’ obligations to fulfil reasonable expectations of those assisted.

Academic supervisors

Conferences and invited presentations

  • Lung, C. 2016. Humanitarian Assistant under Siege—a Non-Consequentialist Approach to Solve the Aid Dilemma, 09 September, The European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR).
  • Lung, C. 2015. Harming Some to Save More? The Ethics of Humanitarian Assistance in Times of Conflicts, 12 December, Taiwan-United Kingdom Academic & Scientific Cooperation (Taiwan-UK Academic & Scientific Cooperation Symposium). 
  • Lung, C. 2015. Distinct Dependency as a justification to continue the aid, 14 September, The University of Manchester (International Humanitarian Conference: A Quest for Humanitarian Effectiveness?).
  • Lung, C. 2014. The Humanitarian Dilemma: Saving Lives by Allowing More Harm, 6-9 August, Goethe University, Frankfurt Am Main (4th Global International Studies Conference ‘Justice, Peace and Stability: Risks and Opportunities for Governance and Development’).
  • Lung, C. 2014. The Humanitarian Dilemma: Saving More Lives by Killing? 27 February, The University of Manchester (Manchester Centre for Political Theory, seminar).
  • Lung, C. 2013. The Humanitarian Dilemma: Saving Lives by Allowing More Harm, 3-4 May, The University of Oxford (2013 Annual Human Welfare Conference ).

Awards and prizes

  • 2016 – Humanities PGR Conference Fund.
  • 2016 – Norman Chester Fund Award.
  • 2016 – ECPR Grant, the European Consortium for Political Research. 
  • 2014 – Norman Chester Fund Award.
  • 2014 – Manchester Doctoral College Fund.
  • 2013 – Norman Chester Fund Award.

Teaching experience

  • 2013-17 – Tutor on 1st year Politics course ‘Introduction to Political Theory’, University of Manchester.
  • 2015-17 – Tutor on 2nd year Philosophy course ‘Ethics’, University of Manchester.
  • 2015 – Tutor on 2nd year Politics course ‘Challenges for Democratic Politics’, University of Manchester.

Contact details