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1. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
David K. Chan Editor's Introduction: War, Peace, and Ethics
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2. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Shawn Kaplan Just War Theory: What Is It Good For?
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The usefulness of Just War Theory (JWT) has been called into question in recent years for two key reasons. First, military conflicts today less frequently fit the model traditionally assumed by JWT of interstate wars between regular armies. Second, there is a perception that JWT has lost its critical edge after its categories and principles have been co-opted by bellicose political leaders. This paper critically examines two responses to these concerns which shift the locus of responsibility for wars towards either individual citizens or soldiers. Both attempts to revitalize JWT rely upon idealized conditions which preclude their pragmatic employment. I propose that, in order to arrive at a non-idealized JWT that individuals can apply in a critical fashion, an alternative focus upon a more basic question of political philosophy is required: Under what conditions, if any, are individual soldiers or citizens politically obligated to fight for their state?
3. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
David K. Chan Moral Reasoning and Decisions on the Ground
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In this paper, I examine the difference between decision-making by soldiers and commanders, compared with leaders of the nation. Decision-makingin the armed forces is prudential reasoning concerned with the best means to achieve given military objectives. I argue that those in the military cannot rationally make the moral choice to risk the lives of their own soldiers or jeopardize their mission in order to protect the lives of enemy civilians. This does not vindicate the realists who deny that morality applies to war. Moral constraints set out in war conventions foster the illusion that by following rules of war, soldiers and their leaders have done all anyone needs to do in terms of moral choice concerning war. Political leaders should instead engage in moral reasoning by considering other means besides war, even the option of changing objectives. Such reasoning differs from prudential reasoning not in scope but in type.
4. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Jordy Rocheleau Against Small Interventions On Sliding Scale Grounds
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The 2011 NATO intervention in Libya has been hailed as a successful humanitarian intervention, beginning the implementation of the United Nations' Responsibility to Protect. Yet when the intervention pursued a mission of regime change which was not necessary to halt an imminent catastrophe, it became dubious on the strict reading of just cause that has been influential in just war theory. However, a recent trend suggests that minor uses of force with small cost to benefit ratios can be justified by a lower threshold of harm, so long as the cause is prima facie just or force is directed at an illegitimate illiberal state. This paper rejects these arguments by arguing that both deontological principle and utilitarian considerations support maintaining a strict catastrophic harm threshold for intervention.
5. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Ovadia Ezra Military and Civil Reasons For Just Behavior in War
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US foreign policy became one of the most popular issues in public and academic discussions, particularly since George W. Bush was elected president. A lot has been said about the negative effects that the Bush administration had on the world's international relations and peace, mainly with regard to the restraints which are required by jus ad bellum. However, not much has been said about the damage that the Bush administration caused to the norms of jus in bello, by ignoring them or turning a blind eye toward their violations. In this paper, I want to recall a few military and civil reasons which have been neglected for following the requirements of jus in bello by the fighting soldiers and the fighting unit, as well as by the belligerent state.
6. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Shannon E. French No Separate Sphere: Assessing Character and Morality in the Context of War
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This paper addresses the concern that despite centuries of analysis of jus ad helium and jus in hello, the pernicious view persists that war is a separate and amoral sphere: "C'est la guerre!" In fact, there are and must be rules for armed conflicts, and foul offenses such as rape and murder are not excused by war. What individuals do beyond the bounds of jus in hello reveals and affects their character as much as actions taken in more peaceful contexts. Traditional martial virtues such as loyalty and discipline, if they are not undermined by mixed signals from leadership or corrupted by an unethical command climate, can be used to bolster the warrior's commitment to exercising restraint in wartime. These virtues remain accessible to the warrior even when dehumanization of the enemy dampens the mind's capacity for empathy and produces moral callousness.
7. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Joseph Boyle Just War and Double Effect: Distinguishing Intended Damage and Unintended Side Effects
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Just war doctrine includes a stringent prohibition against killing and otherwise harming 'innocents', those of one's enemy population who are not engaged in the act of making war. This category includes most enemy civilians. The prohibition cannot reasonably prohibit all possible harms to these innocents. The doctrine of double effect is a way of limiting the prohibition to acts of intentionally harming innocents. This paper explores the application of double effect reasoning in this context, with a view towards determining whether it contains resources to prevent rationalizing and mistaken applications. I argue that, although there are hard cases, the doctrine can be applied rigorously so as to expose rationalizing applications and mistakes.
8. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
David J. Garren The Curious Case of Combatant Culpability
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Are soldiers to blame for the wars in which they fight? If a war is unjust or illegal, do soldiers bear any responsibility? The traditional, and still dominant, view both in morality and law is that soldiers do not bear responsibility and therefore are not to blame for the wars in which they fight, no matter how unjust or illegal they may be because: a) soldiers are incapable of knowing whether the wars in which they fight are unjust or illegal; and b) even if they are capable of knowing, have no choice but to fight them anyway. Soldiers, in other words, are excused for their participation in unjust and illegal wars by what amounts to reasons of insanity (lack of mental responsibility) and duress (obedience to orders). In this article, I explore whether they should be, especially since soldiers are considered to be responsible and therefore blameworthy for what they do (or fail to do) in war and rarely, if ever, excused by reasons of insanity or duress.
9. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Jacoby Adeshei Carter Differences in Dangerousness: The Moral Inequality of Soldiers And Non-State Combatants
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This article begins with a consideration of the standard argument for the moral equality of soldiers; namely, that soldiers are morally equal because they pose similar dangers to one another. Next, arguments for the equal application of the rules of war to both sides are considered and ultimately rejected. In the end, it is argued that if the justice of the cause for war is attributable to the warriors on either side, then modifying or unequally applying the rules of war is in some cases the morally appropriate thing to do.
10. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Andrew Fiala Just War Ethics and the Slippery Slope of Militarism
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Considerations of the ethics of war should more carefully attend to the material conditions of war and the pressures of militarism. To understand contemporary warfare, and the failure of just war theory to restrain war in some cases, we must consider how the military-industrial complex influences war-making. Militarism and the profit to be made in warfare create a slippery slope of sorts which can incline us to fight wars that are unjust.
11. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Ralph D. Ellis The Snake That Eats Itself: Increasing Contradictions Between Globalization and Nation-state Warfare
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As globalized corporations are traded intemationally, with investors and workers from many countries, nation-states have diminishing interest in fighting wars promoting competitive profit interests of intemational companies. Theoretically, this trend could prompt diminution in the role of warfare. Militarism continues to serve corporations that are globally owned, operated, and controlled, fought by the very workers who then must compete against the resulting unregulated and often cormpt intemational labor and resource markets—driving down the real wages of domestic and foreign workers. But if philosophical attitudes eventually catch up with the new thinking about wars that are fought in the context of such complete globalization of labor and resource markets, it seems inevitable that voters will understand that the interests of the people within nation-states no longer coincide with any one global corporation any more than with any other—reducing incentives to sacrifice national blood and treasure defending the interests of nationless entities.