Killing civilians is worse than killing soldiers. If any moral principle commands near universal assent, this one does. Few moral principles have been more widely and more viscerally affirmed. And yet, in recent years it has faced a rising tide of dissent. Political and military leaders seeking to slip the constraints of the laws of war have cavilled and qualified. Their complaints have been unwittingly aided by philosophers who, rebuilding just war theory from its foundations, have concluded that this principle (...) is at best a useful fiction. Sparing Civilians aims to turn this tide, and to vindicate international law, and the ruptured consensus. In doing so, Seth Lazar develops new insights into the morality of harm, relevant to everyone interested in normative and applied ethics. (shrink)
In 1922, Cartan introduced in differential geometry, besides the Riemannian curvature, the new concept of torsion. He visualized a homogeneous and isotropic distribution of torsion in three dimensions (3d) by the “helical staircase”, which he constructed by starting from a 3d Euclidean space and by defining a new connection via helical motions. We describe this geometric procedure in detail and define the corresponding connection and the torsion. The interdisciplinary nature of this subject is already evident from Cartan’s discussion, since he (...) argued—but never proved—that the helical staircase should correspond to a continuum with constant pressure and constant internal torque. We discuss where in physics the helical staircase is realized: (i) In the continuum mechanics of Cosserat media, (ii) in (fairly speculative) 3d theories of gravity, namely (a) in 3d Einstein-Cartan gravity—this is Cartan’s case of constant pressure and constant intrinsic torque—and (b) in 3d Poincaré gauge theory with the Mielke-Baekler Lagrangian, and, eventually, (iii) in the gauge field theory of dislocations of Lazar et al., as we prove for the first time by arranging a suitable distribution of screw dislocations. Our main emphasis is on the discussion of dislocation field theory. (shrink)
A striking number of hysterical or insane female characters populate Francophone women's writing. To discover why, Orlando reads novels from a variety of cultures, teasing out key elements of Francophone identity struggles.
A striking number of hysterical or insane female characters populate Francophone women's writing. To discover why, Orlando reads novels from a variety of cultures, teasing out key elements of Francophone identity struggles.
Suppose that you are trying to pursue a morally worthy goal, but cannot do so without incurring some moral costs. At the outset, you believed that achieving your goal was worth no more than a given moral cost. And suppose that, time having passed, you have wrought only harm and injustice, without advancing your cause. You can now reflect on whether to continue. Your goal is within reach. What's more, you believe you can achieve it by incurring—from this point forward—no (...) more cost than it warranted at the outset. If you now succeed, the total cost will exceed the upper bound marked at the beginning. But the additional cost from this point is below that upper bound. And the good you will achieve is undiminished. How do the moral costs you have already inflicted bear upon your decision now? (shrink)
Many of us think we have agent-centred options to act suboptimally. Some of these involve favouring our own interests. Others involve sacrificing them. In this paper, I explore three different ways to accommodate agent-centred options in a criterion of objective permissibility. I argue against satisficing and rational pluralism, and in favour of a principle built around sensitivity to personal cost.
If we were required to sacrifice our own interests whenever doing so was best overall, or prohibited from doing so unless it was optimal, then we would be mere sites for the realisation of value. Our interests, not ourselves, would wholly determine what we ought to do. We are not mere sites for the realisation of value — instead we, ourselves, matter unconditionally. So we have options to act suboptimally. These options have limits, grounded in the very same considerations. Though (...) not merely such sites, you and I are also sites for the realisation of value, and our interests (and ourselves) must therefore sometimes determine what others ought to do, in particular requiring them to bear reasonable costs for our sake. Likewise, just as my moral status grounds a requirement that others show me appropriate respect, so must I do to myself. (shrink)
Many of us believe (1) Saving a life is more important than averting any number of headaches. But what about risky cases? Surely: (2) In a single choice, if the risk of death is low enough, and the number of headaches at stake high enough, one should avert the headaches rather than avert the risk of death. And yet, if we will face enough iterations of cases like that in (2), in the long run some of those small risks of (...) serious harms will surely eventuate. And yet: (3) Isn't it still permissible for us to run these repeated risks, despite that knowledge? After all, if it were not, then many of the risky activities that we standardly think permissible would in fact be impermissible. Nobody has yet offered a principle that can accommodate all of 1-3. In this paper, I show that we can accommodate all of these judgements, by taking into account both ex ante and ex post perspectives. In doing so, I clear aside an important obstacle to a viable deontological decision theory. (shrink)
Killing in War presents the Moral Equality of Combatants with serious, and in my view insurmountable problems. Absent some novel defense, this thesis is now very difficult to sustain. But this success is counterbalanced by the strikingly revisionist implications of McMahan’s account of the underlying morality of killing in war, which forces us into one of two unattractive positions, contingent pacifism, or near-total war. In this article, I have argued that his efforts to mitigate these controversial implications fail. The reader (...) is left stranded: to reach plausible conclusions, Walzer deployed an implausible conception of our rights to life; McMahan’s more rigorous account of those rights generates untenable conclusions. Absent new developments, it seems that the prospects for grounding the ethics of war in individual rights are poor: any theory of our rights to life that is sufficiently indiscriminate to work in the chaos of war is not discriminating enough to be a plausible theory of our rights to life. Perhaps by rejecting the ideal of the rights-respecting war altogether we might develop an alternative theory of justified warfare, which marries theoretical soundness with conclusions that we can more confidently support. (shrink)
Despite continuing controversies regarding the vital status of both brain-dead donors and individuals who undergo donation after circulatory death (DCD), respecting the dead donor rule (DDR) remains the standard moral framework for organ procurement. The DDR increases organ supply without jeopardizing trust in transplantation systems, reassuring society that donors will not experience harm during organ procurement. While the assumption that individuals cannot be harmed once they are dead is reasonable in the case of brain-dead protocols, we argue that the DDR (...) is not an acceptable strategy to protect donors from harm in DCD protocols. We propose a threefold alternative to justify organ procurement practices: (1) ensuring that donors are sufficiently protected from harm; (2) ensuring that they are respected through informed consent; and (3) ensuring that society is fully informed of the inherently debatable nature of any criterion to declare death. (shrink)
The burgeoning literature on jus post bellum has repeatedly reaffirmed three positions that strike me as deeply implausible: that in the aftermath of wars, compensation should be a priority; that we should likewise prioritize punishing political leaders and war criminals even in the absence of legitimate multilateral institutions; and that when states justifiably launch armed humanitarian interventions, they become responsible for reconstructing the states into which they have intervened – the so called “Pottery Barn” dictum, “You break it, you own (...) it.” Against these common positions, this chapter argues that compensation should be subordinate to reconstruction, with resources going where they are most needed and can do the most good, rather than to the most aggrieved. Just punishment, meanwhile, presupposes just multilateral institutions – the victor cannot be trusted to mete out punishment fairly. And just interveners, who have already taken on such a heavy burden, are entitled to expect the international community to contribute to reconstruction after they have made the first and vital steps. After presenting each of these objections in greater depth, the chapter proceeds to draw some tentative inferences from the threads running through each, and suggest that they illustrate a distinctive flaw in the way in which jus post bellum is addressed by many just war theorists, who not only see the war as the grounds of post bellum duties, but also take it to specify their content: Specifically, they take the rights violations with which wars are imbued to be the basis for post-war action, but take the content of post-war duties to be focused on rectifying those rights violations, rather than the more forward-looking goal of establishing a lasting peace. This backward-looking orientation unduly confines these theorists to making attributions of fault, to a limited palette of normative concepts, and to a focus on the belligerents rather than the international community as a whole. Undoubtedly warfare creates a distinctive normative relationship between belligerent states (though we must question how much of this devolves to the citizens of those states). War does generate grounds for post-war duties – but there are other grounds for those duties too, moreover the grounds should not determine the content. It of course matters that the citizens of two states harmed one another in violation of their rights. But when the war is done, peacebuilding should be the priority, not raking over the wrongs of both sides. Sections 2–4 present the objections, Section 5 offers the tentative analysis and proposes a shift in focus toward an ethics of peacebuilding, and Section 6 concludes. (shrink)
Associative duties are non-contractual duties owed in virtue of a valuable relationship. They hold between lovers, family members, friends, and perhaps compatriots. General duties, by contrast, are owed to people simply in virtue of their humanity: they are grounded in each person’s great and equal moral worth. In this paper, I ask what should be done when we can perform either an associative duty or a general duty, but not both.
this paper advances a novel account of part of what justifies killing in war, grounded in the duties we owe to our loved ones to protect them from the severe harms with which war threatens them. It discusses the foundations of associative duties, then identifies the sorts of relationships, and the specific duties that they ground, which can be relevant to the ethics of war. It explains how those associa- tive duties can justify killing in theory—in particular how they can (...) justify overrid- ing the rights to life of some of those who must be killed to win a war. It then shows how these duties can be operationalised in practice: first, showing how soldiers who fight on behalf of their community can act on reasons that apply to the members of that community; second, showing that the argument from associative duties does not prove too much—in particular, that it does not license the intentional killing of noncombatants in war. (shrink)
It is generally agreed that using lethal or otherwise serious force in self-defense is justified only when three conditions are satisfied: first, there are some grounds for the defender to give priority to his own interests over those of the attacker (whether because the attacker has lost the protection of his right to life, for example, or because of the defender’s prerogative to prefer himself to others); second, the harm used is proportionate to the threat thereby averted; third, the harm (...) is necessary to avert that threat. The first and second conditions have been exhaustively discussed, but the third has been oddly neglected. Meanwhile a prominent school of thought has arisen, in the ethics of war, which seeks to ground the justification of killing in war in principles of individual self-defense. They too have failed to offer any substantive analysis of necessity, while at the same time appealing to it when it suits them to do so. In this paper, I attempt a detailed analysis of the necessity constraint on defensive force, and explore the implications of that analysis for the attempt to transpose principles of individual self-defense into the context of warfare. (shrink)
I try to show that agent responsibility is an inadequate basis for the attribution of liability, by discrediting the Risk Argument and showing how the Responsibility Argument in fact collapses into the Risk Argument. I have concentrated on undermining these as philosophical theories of self-defense, although I at times note that our theory of self-defense should not be predicated on assumptions that are inapplicable to the context of war. The potential combatant, I conclude, should not look to the agency view (...) to ease his conscience about the killing he will do in war. If he is to fight without violating rights, then he will need a different theory of self-defense; if there are no more defensible theories, then he must either accept pacifism—which I think is a live possibility—or seek to identify stronger countervailing reasons, which can override the great force of his victims’ rights to life. (shrink)
International law and conventional morality grant that states may stand ready to defend their borders with lethal force. But what grounds the permission to kill for the sake of political sovereignty and territorial integrity? In this book leading theorists address this vexed issue, and set the terms of future debate over national defence.
How should deontologists concerned with the ethics of killing apply their moral theory when we don’t know all the facts relevant to the permissibility of our action? Though the stakes couldn’t be higher, and uncertainty is endemic where killing is concerned, few deontologists have an answer to this question. In this paper I canvass two possibilities: that we should apply a threshold standard, equivalent to the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard applied for criminal punishment; and that we should fit our (...) deontological ethical theory into the apparatus of decision theory. I show that the first approach faces insurmountable obstacles, while the second holds much more promise for deontologists than they might first have assumed. (shrink)
Consider the following claim: given the choice between saving a life and preventing any number of people from temporarily experiencing a mild headache, you should always save the life. Many moral theorists accept this claim. In doing so, they commit themselves to some form of ‘moral absolutism’: the view that there are some moral considerations that cannot be outweighed by any number of lesser moral considerations. In contexts of certainty, it is clear what moral absolutism requires of you. However, what (...) does it require of you when deciding under risk? What ought you to do when there is a chance that, say, you will not succeed in saving the life? In recent years, various critics have argued that moral absolutism cannot satisfactorily deal with risk and should, therefore, be abandoned. In this paper, we show that moral absolutism can answer its critics by drawing on—of all things—orthodox expected utility theory. (shrink)
The revisionist critique of conventional just war theory has undoubtedly scored some important victories. Walzer’s elegantly unified defense of combatant legal equality and noncombatant immunity has been seriously undermined. This critical success has not, however, been matched by positive arguments, which when applied to the messy reality of war would deprive states and soldiers of the permission to fight wars that are plausibly thought to be justified. The appeal to law that is sought to resolve this objection by casting it (...) as a practical concern, a pragmatic worry about implementation, which while germane to debates over the laws of war, need not undermine our convictions in the fundamental principles the revisionists advocate. This response is inadequate. Revisionists have not shown that soldiers should obey the laws of war, in practice, when they conflict with their other moral reasons – our worries about application remain intact. Moreover, a theory of war that offers only an account of the laws of war, and a set of fundamental principles developed in abstraction from feasibility constraints, is radically incomplete. We need to know how to apply those fundamental principles, and whether, when applied, they lead to defensible conclusions. Only two options seem to remain. Perhaps the revisionists’ arguments for their chosen fundamental principles are sufficiently compelling that we should stick with them, and accept their troubling conclusions – in other words, accept pacifism. Alternatively, we need to revise our fundamental principles, so that when applied they yield conclusions that we can more confidently endorse. -/- Though it does not save the revisionist view from the responsibility dilemma and cognate objections, the appeal to law does raise an important, and previously inadequately theorized, question – or, rather, resurrects a neglected topic, discussed in depth by historical just war theorists such as Grotius and Vattel. There are good grounds for distinguishing the laws of war from the morality of war, and for adjusting the former to accommodate predictable noncompliance, that should not impact on our account of the latter. Nonetheless, I have argued that there are some profound moral insights underlying both combatant legal equality and noncombatant immunity: specifically, we cannot infer from a combatant’s side having not satisfied jus ad bellum that he may not justifiably use lethal force; and other things equal, it is more wrongful to harm a nonliable noncombatant than to harm a nonliable combatant. (shrink)
How should deontologists approach decision-making under uncertainty, for an iterated decision problem? In this paper I explore the shortcomings of a simple expected value approach, using a novel example to raise questions about attitudes to risk, the moral significance of tiny probabilities, the independent moral reasons against imposing risks, the morality of sunk costs, and the role of agent-relativity in iterated decision problems.
People often think that their special relationships with family, friends, comrades and compatriots, can ground moral reasons. Among these reasons, they understand some to be duties – pro tanto requirements that have genuine weight when they conflict with other considerations. In this paper I ask: what is the underlying moral structure of associative duties? I first consider and reject the orthodox Teleological Welfarist account, which first observes that special relationships are fundamental for human well-being, then claims that we cannot have (...) these relationships, if we do not recognise associative duties, before concluding that we should therefore recognise associative duties. I then introduce a nonteleological alternative, grounded in the Appropriate Response approach to ethical theory. (shrink)
The principle of non-combatant immunity protects non-combatants against intentional attacks in war. It is the most widely endorsed and deeply held moral constraint on the conduct of war. And yet it is difficult to justify. Recent developments in just war theory have undermined the canonical argument in its favour – Michael Walzer's, in Just and Unjust Wars. Some now deny that non-combatant immunity has principled foundations, arguing instead that it is entirely explained by a different principle: that of necessity. In (...) war, as in ordinary life, harms to others can be justified only if they are necessary. Attacking non-combatants, the argument goes, is never necessary, so never justified. Although often repeated, this argument has never been explored in depth. In this article, I evaluate the necessity-based argument for non-combatant immunity, drawing together theoretical analysis and empirical research on anti-civilian tactics in interstate warfare, counterinsurgency, and terrorism. (shrink)
In this paper, I ask how - and whether - the rectification of injury at which corrective justice aims is possible, and by whom it must be performed. I split the injury up into components of harm and wrong, and consider their rectification separately. First, I show that pecuniary compensation for the harm is practically plausible, because money acts as a mediator between the damaged interest and other interests. I then argue that this is also a morally plausible approach, because (...) it does not claim too much for compensation: neither can all harms be compensated, nor can it be said when compensation is paid that the status quo ante has been restored. I argue that there is no conceptual reason for any particular agent paying this compensation. I then turn to the wrong, and reject three proposed methods of rectification. The first aims to rectify the wrong by rectifying the harm; the second deploys punitive damages; the third, punishment. After undermining each proposal, I argue that the wrong can only be rectified by a full apology, which I disaggregate into the admission of causal and moral responsibility, repudiation of the act, reform, and, in some cases, disgorgement and reparations, which I define as a good faith effort to share the burden of the victim's harm. I argue, further, that only the injurer herself can make a full apology, and it is not something that can be coerced by other members of society. As such, whether rectification of the wrong can be a matter of corrective justice is left an open question. (shrink)
How does a subject who is competent to detect the irrationality of a belief that p, form her belief against weighty or even conclusive evidence to the contrary? The phenomenon of self-deception threatens a widely shared view of beliefs according to which they do not regularly correspond to emotions and evaluative attitudes. Accordingly, the most popular answer to this question is that the belief formed in self-deception is caused by an intention to form that belief. On this view, the state (...) of self-deception is taken to be a calculated outcome involving a person's intentional manipulation of her own thoughts. I argue that this answer is false and forms an impediment towards making sense of self-deception. I show that, contrary to philosophical prejudice, emotions and desires exert vast and systematic effects on the formation of beliefs. In this, and other, sections of the article, the results of experimental work are brought forward. Self-deception is portrayed here as resembling numerous instances of belief formation which are regularly affected by motivational factors. I argue that self-deceptive beliefs are direct expressions of the subject's wishes, fears and hopes. Qua beliefs which mostly correspond to such factors (rather than to evidence), self-deceptive states are a kind of fantasy. (shrink)
Deontologists have long been upbraided for lacking an account of justified decision- making under risk and uncertainty. One response is to develop a deontological decision theory—a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for an act’s being permissible given an agent’s imperfect information. In this article, I show that deontologists can make more use of regular decision theory than some might have thought, but that we must adapt decision theory to accommodate agent- centered options—permissions to favor or sacrifice our own interests, (...) when doing so is overall morally worse. Accommodating options requires more than just amend- ing the decision-theoretic ‘value function’. We must change the decision rule as well. (shrink)
Wars are large-scale conflicts between organized groups of belligerents, which involve suffering, devastation, and brutality unlike almost anything else in human experience. Whatever one’s other beliefs about morality, all should agree that the horrors of war are all but unconscionable, and that warfare can be justified only if we have some compel- ling account of what is worth fighting for, which can justify contributing, as individu- als and as groups, to this calamitous endeavour. Although this question should obviously be central (...) to both philosophical and politi- cal discussion about war, it is at the forefront of neither. In recent years, philosophical discussion of warfare has bloomed, but the debate has focused on whom we may kill, on the assumption that our aims are justified.1 Political debate, meanwhile, is more concerned with matters of prudence, international law, and public justification, than with reassessing what is worth fighting for. For wars of intervention to halt or prevent massive humanitarian crises, this gap is not so troubling. When warfare is the only means to prevent the mass killing or enslavement of the innocent, the purposes of military force are clear enough (though undoubtedly many other problems remain). The problem is more pressing, how- ever, for the justification of national defence.3 Although common-sense morality and international law view national defence as the paradigm case of justified warfare, grounding this consensus is surprisingly difficult.4 We typically believe that any state is justified in using lethal force to protect its territory against any form of uninvited military incursion by any other state. And yet we lack a good argument to explain why this should be so. In this chapter, I explain why one familiar and otherwise plausible approach to the justification of killing in war cannot adequately ground common-sense views of permissible national defence.5 Reductionists believe that justified warfare reduces to an aggregation of acts that are justified under ordinary principles of interpersonal morality.6 The standard form of reductionism focuses on the principles governing killing in ordinary life, specifically those that justify intentional killing in self- and other-defence, and unintended but foreseen (for short, collateral) killing as a lesser evil. Justified warfare, on this view, is no more than the coextension of multiple acts justified under these two principles. Reductionism is the default philosophical approach to thinking through the ethics of killing in war. It makes perfect sense to ask what principles govern permissible kill- ing in general, before applying them to the particular context of war. If it cannot deliver a plausible set of conclusions about when national defence is permitted, then we must either revise our beliefs about which conclusions count as plausible, or else face the significant challenge of developing a different theoretical model for justifying war- fare—an exceptionalist model, which views war as an exception to the regular moral landscape, to which principles apply which apply to nothing else but war.7 We must show, in other words, that there is something worth fighting for in wars of national defence, which is not engaged when we use force in any other context. The chapter proceeds as follows. Section 2.2 sets out the argument against reduc- tionism.8 Section 2.3 considers and rebuts one common response to the argument, which has often been thought sufficient grounds to disregard its conclusion. Section 2.4 then asks whether a modified reductionism would survive unscathed by the argu- ment. Finally, section 2.5 sets out some desiderata on a plausible exceptionalist alterna- tive. Section 2.6 concludes. (shrink)
I argue that riskier killings of innocent people are, other things equal, objectively worse than less risky killings. I ground these views in considerations of disrespect and security. Killing someone more riskily shows greater disrespect for him by more grievously undervaluing his standing and interests, and more seriously undermines his security by exposing a disposition to harm him across all counterfactual scenarios in which the probability of killing an innocent person is that high or less. I argue that the salient (...) probabilities are the agent’s sincere, sane, subjective probabilities, and that this thesis is relevant whether your risk-taking pertains to the probability of killing a person or to the probability that the person you kill is not liable to be killed. I then defend the view’s relevance to intentional killing; show how it differs from an account of blameworthiness; and explain its significance for all-things-considered justification and justification under uncertainty. (shrink)
Soldiers sign contracts to obey lawful orders; they also swear oaths to this end. The enlistment contract for the Armed Forces of the United States combines both elements: -/- '9a. My enlistment is more than an employment agreement. As a member of the Armed Forces of the United States, I will be: (1) Required to obey all lawful orders and perform all assigned duties … (4) Required upon order to serve in combat or other hazardous situations.' -/- We standardly think (...) that these oaths and contracts give soldiers new moral reasons to fight. Many also think that soldiers who are ordered to fight by legitimate states have moral reasons to obey those orders, just in virtue of their provenance. -/- We generate these reasons through our voluntary decisions—to sign the contract or swear the oath; to form the institutions and give the orders. They are therefore additional moral reasons, on top of the reasons that we have prior to those voluntary decisions. Simply because they are additional, these reasons seem limited in force and scope. In particular, they arguably cannot override pre-existing commitments. For example, if I already have a duty not to kill an innocent person, my promising to breach that duty seems irrelevant to whether doing so is permissible. Similarly for orders issued by legitimate states: the citizens of a legitimate state have pre-existing moral reasons not to kill the innocent; by what alchemy could their state's orders allow combatants to override those reasons? If additional reasons could make prohibited acts permissible, as Sidgwick observed, ‘we could evade any moral obligation by promising not to fulfil it, which is clearly absurd’ (Sidgwick 1981). -/- We might conclude that the contracts soldiers sign, the oaths they take and the orders they receive have weight only when they pertain to acts that soldiers are already allowed to do. Perhaps these additional reasons can require actions that would otherwise be merely permissible, but they cannot license otherwise prohibited actions. If this is right, then it radically limits the relevance of contracts, oaths and authority to the ethics of war, since almost all conflicts involve soldiers breaching some pre-existing moral duties. -/- This is obviously true for soldiers fighting on the unjust side in a war, since almost all the killing they do is unjust. But in all actual wars soldiers on the just side also kill at least some innocent victims, whether as part of an unjust subordinate aim, as ‘collateral damage’, or simply because their adversaries are not sufficiently responsible for unjustified threats to be liable to be killed. If additional reasons cannot make otherwise prohibited acts permissible, then they are practically irrelevant to the ethics of killing in war, at least in this sense: if fighting is impermissible without regard to the contract, oath and authority of their state, then fighting is simply impermissible. -/- This is a tempting conclusion. In this paper, however, I argue that even if it is true at the level of objective permissibility, it is false for subjective permissibility. And since subjective permissibility is where (at least some of) the action is in the ethics of war, this is a significant result. I explain first why additional reasons can make otherwise subjectively prohibited acts permissible, then why just war theorists should care more than they seem to about subjective permissibility. Although I focus throughout on the ethics of war, my arguments generalise to all kinds of additional reasons. (shrink)
This paper asks whether we can defend associative duties to our compatriots that are grounded solely in the relationship of liberal co-citizenship. The sort of duties that are especially salient to this relationship are duties of justice, duties to protect and improve the institutions that constitute that relationship, and a duty to favour the interests of compatriots over those of foreigners. Critics have argued that the liberal conception of citizenship is too insubstantial to sustain these duties — indeed, that it (...) gives us little reason to treat compatriots any differently from how we treat foreigners, with all the practical consequences that this would entail. I suggest that on a specific conception of liberal citizenship we can, in fact, defend associative duties, but that these extend only to the duty to protect and improve the institutions that constitute that relationship. Duties of justice and favouritism, I maintain, cannot be particularised to one's compatriots. (shrink)
This paper explicates a conception of injury as right-violation, which allows us to distinguish between setbacks to interests that should, and should not, be the concern of theories of justice. It begins by introducing a hybrid theory of rights, grounded in (a) the mobilisation of our moral equality to (b) protect our most important interests, and shows how violations of rights are the concern of justice, while setbacks where one of the twin grounds of rights is defeated are not. It (...) then looks more closely at the substantive moral components of injury, namely harm—damage to one’s interests—and wrong—disrespect for one’s moral equality. It argues that, on the hybrid conception of rights, harm and wrong are individually necessary and jointly sufficient components of injury, and the disvalue of neither is reducible to the other—in particular, it is a mistake to construe the disrespect identified by wrong as another damaged interest. Finally, it distinguishes between the public and private dimensions of harm and wrong, and makes some preliminary suggestions as to whether the remedy for these different dimensions should lie in criminal, distributive, or corrective justice. (shrink)
McMahan’s book develops each of these themes: rejection of the moral equality of soldiers, introduction and defense of his criterion of liability to lethal attack, and resistance to its unsavory implications for noncombatant immunity. The contributions to this symposium focus on the first two themes. John Gardner and Franc¸ois Tanguay-Renaud make a plea for culpability, testing McMahan’s endorsement of a thinner standard of responsibility for liability, while David Rodin’s paper explores the implications of McMahan’s novel analysis of proportionality in self (...) defense, asking whether the proportionality metaphor can be extended even further than McMahan considers. Cheyney Ryan and Yitzhak Benbaji each argue that the intuitions underlying the moral equality of soldiers have firmer foundations than McMahan allows—Ryan aiming to develop the democratic justification for military obedience; Benbaji seeking to defend a more holistic contractarian justification of the conventional principles governing conduct in war. McMahan then offers a detailed response to his critics. (shrink)
While the business ethics literature has devoted a tremendous amount of discussion in recent years to the question of whether the corporate manager has obligations to parties other than shareholders, it has failed to apply any of its insights to particular ethical concerns. This leaves the corporate manager with almost no guidance for resolving particular dilemmas he or she encounters. I bridge the gulf between theory and practice by focusing on the issue of corporate downsizing. I argue that corporate downsizing (...) is, in manyinstances, morally contentious. (shrink)
The necessity constraint is at the heart of the ethics of both self-defense and war, and yet we know little about it. This article seeks to remedy that defect. It proceeds in two stages: first, an analysis of the concept of necessity in self-defense; second, an application of this analysis to war, looking at both its implications for just war theory and its application in the laws of war.
This paper is focused on the abstractist theory of fiction, namely, the semantic theory according to which fictional names refer to abstract entities. Two semantic problems that arise in relation to that position are analysed: the first is the problem of accounting for the intuitive truth of typically fictive uses of statements containing fictional names; the second is the one of explaining some problematic metafictive uses, in particular, the use of intuitively true negative existentials.
Why does it matter that those who fight wars be authorized by the communities on whose behalf they claim to fight? I argue that lacking authorization generates a moral cost, which counts against a war's proportionality, and that having authorization allows the transfer of reasons from the members of the community to those who fight, which makes the war more likely to be proportionate. If democratic states are better able than non-democratic states and sub-state groups to gain their community's authorization, (...) this means that some wars will be proportionate if fought by democracies, disproportionate if not. (shrink)
Recent work on the ethics of war has struggled to simultaneously justify two central tenets of international law: the Permission to kill enemy combatants, and the Prohibition on targeting enemy noncombatants. Recently, just war theorists have turned to collectivist considerations as a way out of this problem. In this paper, I reject the argument that all and only unjust combatants are liable to be killed in virtue of their complicity in the wrongful war fought by their side, and that noncombatants (...) are not permissible targets because they are not complicit. I then argue that just combatants have some reason to direct force against unjust combatants rather than unjust noncombatants, because they should respect the reasonable self-determining decisions of other political communities, when those communities settle on the distribution of a negative surplus of cost for which they are collectively but not individually responsible. These collectivist reasons will not fully justify the Permission and the Prohibition, but they can contribute to that justification. (shrink)