Title

Responding to “natural” disasters: The ethical implications of the voluntary state

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-2007

Publication Title

Administrative Theory & Praxis

Volume

29

Issue

4

First Page

534

Last Page

natural disasters, disaster relief, human rights, Hurricane Katrina, 2005

Abstract

Natural events are not automatically disasters; they become disasters because of their negative impact on humanity. This paper argues that the wake of natural disasters exposes the ethical difficulty of the "voluntary state." In particular, we demonstrate that the failures of the voluntary state are exposed by disasters such as that caused by Hurricane Katrina. Such failures of the voluntary state offer an unfortunate impetus for reconsidering the role of public administration theory, which must now more than ever argue on behalf of the most marginalized populations in an era that has wrongly declared their well being to be a matter of choice.