Collateral Damage and the Principle of Due Care

Journal of Military Ethics 13 (1):94-105 (2014)

Abstract

This article focuses on the ethical implications of so-called ‘collateral damage’. It develops a moral typology of collateral harm to innocents, which occurs as a side effect of military or quasi-military action. Distinguishing between accidental and incidental collateral damage, it introduces four categories of such damage: negligent, oblivious, knowing and reckless collateral damage. Objecting mainstream versions of the doctrine of double effect, the article argues that in order for any collateral damage to be morally permissible, violent agents must comply with high standards of care. In order for incidental harm to be permissible, an agent must take pains to avoid such harm even at higher cost to him- or herself. It is argued that accidentally but negligently caused collateral damage may be just as difficult to excuse as incidental harm. Only if high precautionary standards of care are met, can unintended harm to innocents – incidental or accidental – be permissible. In practice, such a strong commitment to avoiding harm to civilians may well lead us to question more generally and rethink more radically how violent conflicts ought to be fought, how military violence ought to be used and whether there are better ways of achieving those aims that we think are legitimate than those we are currently using.

Download options

PhilArchive

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Analytics

Added to PP
2012-10-25

Downloads
1,173 (#5,192)

6 months
107 (#6,257)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Similar books and articles

Collateral Damage.David Lefkowitz - 2008 - In Larry May & Emily Crookston (eds.), War: Essays in Political Philosophy. Cambridge University Press.
Ethics for Enemies: Terror, Torture, and War.F. M. Kamm (ed.) - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
Double Effect, Double Intention, and Asymmetric Warfare.Steven Lee - 2004 - Journal of Military Ethics 3 (3):233-251.
On the Ethics of War and Terrorism.Uwe Steinhoff - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
A Critique of Scanlon on Double Effect.Joshua Stuchlik - 2012 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 9 (2):178-199.
Revising the Doctrine of Double Effect.Jeff McMahan - 1994 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 11 (2):201-212.
Damaged Bodies, Damaged Identities.Hilde Lindemann Nelson - 2004 - Philosophy in the Contemporary World 11 (1):7-11.
Civilian Immunity in War.Igor Primoratz - 2005 - Philosophical Forum 36 (1):41–58.
The Harm Principle.Nils Holtug - 2002 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 5 (4):357-389.
The Double Life of Double Effect.Allison McIntyre - 2004 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 25 (1):61-74.
Deconstructing the Doctrine of Double Effect.Richard Hull - 2000 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 3 (2):195-207.

Author's Profile

Anne Schwenkenbecher
Murdoch University

Citations of this work

Terrorism, Jus Post Bellum and the Prospect of Peace.Anne Schwenkenbecher - 2017 - In Florian Demont-Biaggi (ed.), The Nature of Peace and the Morality of Armed Conflict. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 123-140.
When Manipulation Gets Personal.Vishnu Sridharan - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (3):464-478.
Sharing the Costs of Fighting Justly.Sara Van Goozen - 2018 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy (2):1-21.
Sharing the Costs of Fighting Justly.Sara Van Goozen - 2020 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 23 (2):233-253.

Add more citations