If states are permitted to create and maintain a military force, by what means are they permitted to do so? This paper argues that a theory of just recruitment should incorporate a concern for moral risk. Since the military is a morally risky profession for its members, recruitment policies should be evaluated in terms of how they distribute moral risk within a community. We show how common military recruitment practices exacerbate and concentrate moral risk exposure, using the UK as a (...) case study. We argue that the British state wrongs its citizens by subjecting them to excessively morally risky recruitment practices. Since, we argue, this risk exposure cannot be justified by appealing to the benefits of a military career for recruits, our argument calls for reform of existing practices. Our method of evaluation is generalizable and thus can be used to assess other states’ practices. (shrink)
Many think that it would be wrong to defend an individual from attack if he competently and explicitly refuses defensive intervention. In this paper, I consider the extent to which the preferences of victims affect the permissibility of defending groups or aggregates. These cases are interesting and difficult because there is no straightforward sense in which a group can univocally consent to or refuse defensive intervention in the same way that an individual can. Among those who have considered this question, (...) the dominant view is that that consent imposes only an extremely weak constraint on defending groups. I argue that this is mistaken and defend a much more robust requirement. Indeed, on the account that I develop there are cases in which the refusal of a single member of a victim is enough to make it impermissible to defend a much larger group. At the heart of my account is the idea that consent functions as an internal component of the broader requirement that defensive harms be proportionate: if a victim validly refuses defensive intervention, the fact that defence will benefit him cannot be used to justify harming innocents as the lesser-evil. An important implication of this view is that what constitutes sufficient consent from the members of a victim group will vary on a case-by-case basis. (shrink)
Since its earliest incarnations, just war theory has included the requirement that war must be initiated and waged by a legitimate authority. However, while recent years have witnessed a remarkable resurgence in interest in just war theory, the authority criterion is largely absent from contemporary discussions. In this paper I aim to show that this is an oversight worth rectifying, by arguing that the authority criterion plays a much more important role within just war theorising than is commonly supposed. As (...) standardly understood, the authority criterion provides a necessary condition for the justification of the resort to war, but has no bearing on the question of permissible conduct in war. In opposition, I argue for an alternative interpretation of the criterion, which attributes to it a fundamental role in assessing this latter question. With this revised interpretation in place, I then demonstrate its advantages by applying it to the practical issue of armed conflicts that are initiated and fought by non-traditional belligerents. While several theorists have recognised that this common feature of modern armed conflict poses a challenge to mainstream just war theory in general—and to the authority criterion in particular—I argue that existing discussions frequently misconstrue the nature of the challenge, since they assume the standard interpretation of the authority requirement and its role within the theory. I then show that the revised interpretation provides a clearer account of both the challenge posed by non-traditional belligerency and the kind of response that it requires. (shrink)
Chater & Loewenstein argue that i-frame research has been coopted by private interests opposed to system-level reform, leading to ineffective interventions. They recommend that behavioural scientists refocus on system-level interventions. We suggest that the influence of private interests on research is problematic for wider normative and epistemic reasons. A system-level intervention to shield research from private influence is needed.
According to common-sense morality, agents can become morally connected to the wrongdoing of others, such that they incur special obligations to prevent or rectify the wrongs committed by the primary wrongdoer. We argue that, under certain conditions, voluntary and unjustified observation of another agent’s degrading wrongdoing, or of the ‘product’ of their wrongdoing, can render an agent morally liable to bear costs for the sake of the victim of the primary wrong. We develop our account with particular reference to widespread (...) modern phenomena such as so-called ‘revenge porn’, ‘up-skirting’, and the online observation of sexual assault and murder. On our account, observation is not a sui generis basis of liability. Instead, observation grounds liability in virtue of manifesting three, more general, grounds of liability. First, observation can compound a primary wrong, making that wrong more harmful for the victim. Second, observation can constitute degrading treatment of the victim. Third, in certain cases observation can enable primary wrongdoing. We conclude by discussing the conditions under which observing degrading wrongs might be morally justified. (shrink)
The vast majority of work on the ethics of war focuses on traditional wars between states. In this chapter, I aim to show that this is an oversight worth rectifying. My strategy will be largely comparative, assessing whether certain claims often defended in discussions of interstate wars stand up in the context of civil conflicts, and whether there are principled moral differences between the two types of case. Firstly, I argue that thinking about intrastate wars can help us make progress (...) on important theoretical debates in recent just war theory. Secondly, I consider whether certain kinds of civil wars are subject to a more demanding standard of just cause, compared to interstate wars of national-defence. Finally, I assess the extent to which having popular support is an independent requirement of permissible war, and whether this renders insurgencies harder to justify than wars fought by functioning states. (shrink)
This paper explores the connections between two central topics in moral and political philosophy: the moral legitimacy of authority and the ethics of causing harm. Each of these has been extensively discussed in isolation, but relatively little work has considered the implications of certain views about authority for theories of permissible harming, and vice versa. As I aim to show, reflection on the relationship between these two topics reveals that certain common views about, respectively, the justification of harm and the (...) moral limits of authority require revision. The paper proceeds as follows. Sections 1 and 2 clarify the question to be addressed and set out two main claims that I will defend. Sections 3-5 argue for the first claim. Sections 6-9 defend the second. Section 10 concludes. (shrink)
Despite a recent explosion of interest in the ethics of armed conflict, the traditional just war criterion that war be waged by a “legitimate authority” has received less attention than other components of the theory. Moreover, of those theorists who have addressed the criterion, many are deeply skeptical about its moral significance. This article aims to add some clarity and precision to the authority criterion and to debates surrounding it, and to suggest that this skepticism may be too quick. First, (...) it provides an analysis of the authority criterion, and argues there are (at least) two distinct moral claims associated with the criterion, requiring separate evaluation. Second, it outlines an increasingly influential “reductivist” approach to just war theory, and explains how it grounds powerful objections to the authority criterion. Third, and in response, it sketches the most promising strategies for providing a (qualified) defense of authority, and the further questions and complications they raise. Importantly, these strategies aim to rehabilitate the authority criterion from within a broadly reductivist view. (shrink)
Those of us who are not pacifists face an obvious challenge. Common-sense morality contains a stringent constraint on intentional killing, yet war involves homicide on a grand scale. If wars are to be morally justified, it needs be shown how this conflict can be reconciled. A major fault line running throughout the contemporary just war literature divides two approaches to attempting this reconciliation. On a ‘reductivist’ view, defended most prominently by Jeff McMahan, the conflict is largely illusory, since such killing (...) can be justified by aggregating individuals’ ordinary permissions to use force in self- and other-defence. In opposition, a rival ‘nonreductivist’ approach holds that these considerations are insufficient for the task. One prominent version of non-reductivism grounds the permission to kill in combatants’ membership in certain kinds of group or association. The key claim is that participation in certain morally important relationships can provide an independent source of permission for killing in war. This paper argues that non-reductivism should be rejected. It does so by pushing a dilemma onto non-reductivists: if they are successful in showing that the relevant relationships can generate permissions to kill in war, they must also jettison the most intuitive restrictions on conduct in war—the constraint on intentionally killing morally innocent non-combatants most saliently. Since this conclusion is unacceptable, non-reductivism should be rejected. (shrink)
This paper focuses on Quong’s account of the scope of the means principle (the range of actions over which the special constraint on using a person applies). One the key ideas underpinning Quong’s approach is that the means principle is downstream from an independent and morally prior account of our rights over the world and against one another. I raise three challenges to this ‘rights first’ approach. First, I consider Quong’s treatment of harmful omissions and argue that Quong’s view generates (...) counter-intuitive results. Second, I argue that cases of harmful omissions raise problems for Quong’s claim that intentions are irrelevant to permissibility. Third, I consider Quong’s extension of the means principle to include uses of persons’ rightfully-owned property. I suggest that, contra Quong, the morality of defensive harm is not based on a prior account of distributive justice. Instead the two normative domains mutually inform one another. (shrink)
Law and Morality at War offers a broadly instrumentalist defense of the authority of the laws of war: these laws serve combatants by helping them come closer to doing what they have independent moral reason to do. We argue that this form of justification sets too low a bar. An authority’s directives are not binding, on instrumental grounds, if the subject could, within certain limits, adopt an alternative, and superior, means of conforming to morality’s demands. It emerges that Haque’s argument (...) fails to vindicate the law’s authority over all combatants. (shrink)
Each essay in this book starts with a question posed by individual ethnographic experience and then goes on to frame this question in a broader, comparative context. Written in an engaging and accessible style, Questions of Anthropology presents an introduction to the purpose and value of Anthropology today."--BOOK JACKET.