Michael Ignatieff

Michael Ignatieff — A winner of the Gelber Prize for his book Blood and Belonging: Journeys into the New Nationalism, Michael Ignatieff is a leading thinker on human rights issues, a public intellectual and historian. He is deputy leader of Canada’s Liberal Party and has held academic positions at Cambridge, Oxford and is the former head of Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. Ignatieff has also worked as a journalist and documentary filmmaker.

Ignatieff is a recognized historian, a fiction writer and public intellectual who has written several books on international relations and nation building. His sixteen fiction and non-fiction books have been translated into twelve languages. He has contributed articles to newspapers such as The Globe and Mail and The New York Times Magazine. Maclean’s named him among the Top 10 Canadian Who’s Who in 1997 and one of the 50 Most Influential Canadians Shaping Society in 2002. In 2003, Maclean’s named him Canada’s Sexiest Cerebral Man. Ignatieff has been described by the British Arts Council as “an extraordinarily versatile writer” in both the style and the subjects he writes about. The Lesser Evil approach…

Ignatieff has argued that Western democracies may have to resort to “lesser evils” like indefinite detention of suspects, coercive interrogations, targeted assassinations, and pre-emptive wars in order to combat the greater evil of terrorism. He states that as a result, societies should strengthen their democratic institutions to keep these necessary evils from becoming as offensive to freedom and democracy as the threats they are meant to prevent. In the context of this “lesser evil” analysis, he discusses whether or not liberal democracies should employ coercive interrogation and torture. The lesser evil approach’ has been criticized by some prominent human rights advocates for incorporating a problematic form of moral language that can used to legitimize forms of torture. Ignatieff has adamantly maintained that he supports a complete ban on torture.

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