Double effect, double intention, and asymmetric warfare

Journal of Military Ethics 3 (3):233-251 (2004)
Abstract
Modern warfare cannot be conducted without civilians being killed. In order to reconcile this fact with the principle of discrimination in just war theory, the principle is applied through the doctrine of double effect. But this doctrine is morally inadequate because it is too permissive regarding the risk to civilians. For this reason, Michael Walzer has suggested that the doctrine be supplemented with what he calls the idea of double intention: combatants are not only to refrain from intending to harm civilians; they are also to take precautions to reduce risk to civilians, even at the expense of increasing risk to themselves. The article develops the idea of double intention by addressing two questions: What does it mean to intend to reduce civilian risk, and how much should civilian risk be reduced? The results of this discussion are then used to consider a moral issue that arises in technologically asymmetric warfare, namely, the extent to which the use of precision-guided munitions, which allow more accurate targeting, can by itself bear the moral burden imposed by the principle of discrimination
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