David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Military Ethics 3 (1):16-26 (2004)
Typically, in cases where an agent's actions produce foreseen harmful consequences, we morally discriminate in favor of scenarios in which those consequences are unintended. This intuitive distinction plays a particularly important role in our moral assessment of military strategies, especially when innocent bystanders may be involved. However, the analysis of the general principles governing such pre-theoretical inclinations must inevitably confront difficult and obstinate philosophical problems. As has often been pointed out, the criteria proposed by the traditional view on this issue, the so-called Doctrine of Double Effect, are dependent upon the description of the agent's intentional profile in an intuitively inadmissible way. As a solution to the Doctrine's shortcomings, contemporary philosophers have proposed analyses in which the notion of harmful involvement plays a central role. The main thesis of this paper is that appeals to harmful involvement do not provide the desired solution. Given the pervasive role played by the assessment of an agent's intentions in our moral evaluation of the use of military force in particular situations, the philosophical puzzles raised in this paper bring to the foreground a set of correlated problems of unequivocal relevance for the discipline of military ethics
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