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Intention, prevention, and the just war

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TitleInfo
Title
Intention, prevention, and the just war
Name (type = personal)
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Bronner
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Ben I.
NamePart (type = date)
1987-
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Ben I. Bronner
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author
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Walen
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Alec D
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Alec D Walen
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Advisory Committee
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chair
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Temkin
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Larry S
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Larry S Temkin
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Advisory Committee
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internal member
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Husak
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Douglas
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Douglas Husak
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Advisory Committee
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internal member
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McMahan
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Jeff
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Jeff McMahan
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Advisory Committee
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outside member
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Rutgers University
Role
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degree grantor
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School of Graduate Studies
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school
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Text
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theses
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2019
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2019-10
Language
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English
Abstract (type = abstract)
According to just war theory, there are a number of conditions that must be met in order for it to be morally permissible for a state or other political community to resort to war. Likewise, there are conditions on the permissible use of force by combatants in war. The conditions offered by just war theory are, at least for the most part, intuitive and plausible. Yet there are a number of problems that arise when we try to find precise statements of these conditions; or when we try to say, in a particular case, whether these conditions have been met. The following papers examine some of these problems.
“Just Cause and Justification” discusses the idea of a just cause for war, as well as the relationship between just cause and justification. It begins by presenting an account of just cause and arguing that it has been the historically dominant account, from the Roman foundations of the just war tradition until the present day. It then presents several cases in which it seems that war can be justified despite there being no just cause — or, more accurately, despite the fact that the historically dominant account seems to entail that there is no just cause. Finally, the paper considers several possible ways of responding to this fact. Most of these possibilities are either inadequate or would represent a significant departure from the mainstream of the just war tradition. The most adequate and least revisionary response is based on the controversial claim that an individual can be liable to harm in virtue of posing a threat of unjustified harm to others, even if they are not responsible for posing such a threat.
“The Responsibility Dilemma and the Relevance of Intentions” considers a challenge posed by Seth Lazar for Jeff McMahan’s influential account of permissible killing in war. McMahan rejects the common claim that combatants on both sides of a war may permissibly kill their enemies. For according to McMahan, posing a threat to another is not sufficient for being liable to harm. Rather, liability to harm is grounded in responsibility for a threat of unjustified harm. According to Lazar, when it comes to responsibility for threats of unjustified harm, many civilians are as responsible as many unjust combatants. So if liability is grounded in responsibility for such threats, as McMahan claims, then either (i) unjust civilians are rarely liable to be killed but many unjust combatants are not liable to be killed either, or (ii) nearly all unjust combatants are liable to be killed but so are many unjust civilians. Hence Lazar contends that McMahan has inadvertently committed himself to either pacifism or total war — that is, to either rejecting the existence of justified wars or else embracing indiscriminate attacks upon civilian populations. I develop a particular response to Lazar’s argument. This response accepts that many unjust combatants are not liable to be killed, but it denies that the intentional killing of non-liable unjust combatants infringes the moral constraint on intentionally harming the innocent. Absent infringements of that constraint, there can be a lesser-evil justification for wars in which non-liable individuals are killed, and hence pacifism can be avoided.
Finally, “The Modal Fog of War” discusses a problem that arises when we try to determine the harm that is prevented by some act, such as the resort to war or an act performed within war. I argue that it is not clear how to draw the distinction between preventing harm and merely refraining from causing harm. This presents an obvious problem, as well as a less obvious one. The obvious problem is that if we cannot tell whether some act would prevent harm, then we certainly cannot tell what harm it would prevent, and this may leave us in the dark about the act’s permissibility. The less obvious problem is that if we cannot tell whether some act would prevent harm, this threatens to leave us in the dark about the harm that would be prevented by the agent’s other options. After presenting this latter problem, I consider several possible responses. I endorse one and note its limitations.
Subject (authority = RUETD)
Topic
Philosophy
Subject (authority = LCSH)
Topic
Just war doctrine
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Rutgers University Electronic Theses and Dissertations
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ETD_10149
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1 online resource (xii, 118 pages)
Note (type = degree)
Ph.D.
Note (type = bibliography)
Includes bibliographical references
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School of Graduate Studies Electronic Theses and Dissertations
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rucore10001600001
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Identifier (type = doi)
doi:10.7282/t3-bg2e-bc19
Genre (authority = ExL-Esploro)
ETD doctoral
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The author owns the copyright to this work.
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Name
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Bronner
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Ben
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Permission or license
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2019-08-01 21:59:18
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Ben Bronner
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Rutgers University. School of Graduate Studies
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Author Agreement License
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I hereby grant to the Rutgers University Libraries and to my school the non-exclusive right to archive, reproduce and distribute my thesis or dissertation, in whole or in part, and/or my abstract, in whole or in part, in and from an electronic format, subject to the release date subsequently stipulated in this submittal form and approved by my school. I represent and stipulate that the thesis or dissertation and its abstract are my original work, that they do not infringe or violate any rights of others, and that I make these grants as the sole owner of the rights to my thesis or dissertation and its abstract. I represent that I have obtained written permissions, when necessary, from the owner(s) of each third party copyrighted matter to be included in my thesis or dissertation and will supply copies of such upon request by my school. I acknowledge that RU ETD and my school will not distribute my thesis or dissertation or its abstract if, in their reasonable judgment, they believe all such rights have not been secured. I acknowledge that I retain ownership rights to the copyright of my work. I also retain the right to use all or part of this thesis or dissertation in future works, such as articles or books.
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Embargo
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2019-10-31
DateTime (encoding = w3cdtf); (qualifier = exact); (point = end)
2021-10-30
Detail
Access to this PDF has been restricted at the author's request. It will be publicly available after October 30th, 2021.
Copyright
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Copyright protected
Availability
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Open
Reason
Permission or license
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