War is undoubtedly a dirty business, usually entailing massive destruction and loss of life on both sides. In an attempt to limit this inevitable death and destruction…
War is undoubtedly a dirty business, usually entailing massive destruction and loss of life on both sides. In an attempt to limit this inevitable death and destruction, philosophers have argued that belligerents must following certain principles in the conduct of warfare; namely, the principles of discrimination (that only legitimate military targets may be attacked) and of proportionality (that the damage done in attacking such targets must not be out of proportion to the military value of the target). These principles have come to be enshrined in International Law through a range of treaties, which are collectively known in military circles as the International Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC).
The essential idea at the heart of Michael Walzer’s supreme emergency argument, or as Brian Orend calls it, the supreme emergency exemption, is that desperate times call for desperate measures. If the situation is dire enough, and the consequences faced are serious enough, then it will be justifiable to act in ways which would normally be prohibited. In concrete terms, what this means is that during a time of war, a state can in some circumstances ignore the usual rules of warfare (i.e. the principles of discrimination and proportionality). Walzer claims this is justified if and only if the following conditions are met: the state is the victim of aggression, the state is about to be militarily defeated, and that the consequences of defeat will be catastrophic (i.e. would include extreme and widespread violations of fundamental human rights). In other words, when faced with a supreme emergency one is justified in engaging in widespread violations of the rights of some people (people to whom one only has a general duty) in order to prevent widespread violations of the rights of others (people to whom one has a specific duty).
In this paper I argue that the ‘rules’ which must be applied in order for widespread rights-violations to be considered justified are actually well understood, and that supreme emergency is not an unusual situation for which new rules must be considered, but simply an important specific example of such a situation. Essentially I argue that one must dirty one’s hands in war, but that there is no need for one’s hands to get any dirtier in a situation of supreme emergency.
This paper provides a novel framework for considering a much-debated question within military ethical fields, using insights from two of the major proponents of contemporary military ethics.
This Chapter is written in an era in which the United Nations (UN) routinely deploys Missions to environments that satisfy the armed conflict threshold. Such Missions…
This Chapter is written in an era in which the United Nations (UN) routinely deploys Missions to environments that satisfy the armed conflict threshold. Such Missions often require personnel to employ significant levels of force, whether to safeguard mission and humanitarian personnel, to protect civilians, to neutralise violent armed groups or, in pure self-defence. But use as well as non-use of force can readily frustrate the very objectives these troops are deployed to uphold, in turn creating gaps between the Promises they make and the Outcomes they actually secure. On the other hand, current Missions such as MINUSMA in Mali have proven to be amongst the deadliest for UN troops in the entire history of UN Peacekeeping. The thin line between use and non-use of force must therefore be trodden with utmost care. This Chapter tries to find answers to this dilemma from a moral perspective and considers how the peculiar nature of the morality of resort to force by the UN influences that of its use of force. It assesses why the latter should be calibrated or adjusted to comply with the former, and how this can consequently channel UN troop conduct towards the objectives pursued through deployment. It is only where these realities are understood and addressed, the Chapter submits, that the aforementioned Gaps between Promises and Outcomes can be redressed and closed.
New technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), have helped us begin to take our first steps off Earth and into outer space. But conflicts inevitably will arise and, in the absence of settled governance, may be resolved by force, as is typical for new frontiers. But the terrestrial assumptions behind the ethics of war will need to be rethought when the context radically changes, and both the environment of space and the advent of robotic warfighters with superhuman capabilities will constitute such a radical change. This essay examines how new autonomous technologies, especially dual-use technologies, and the challenges to human existence in space will force us to rethink the ethics of war, both from space to Earth, and in space itself.
The images of soldiers which are evoked on memorial days commonly include a number of different virtues: courage, loyalty, fraternity, etc. One ideal perhaps extolled…
The images of soldiers which are evoked on memorial days commonly include a number of different virtues: courage, loyalty, fraternity, etc. One ideal perhaps extolled above all others is that of sacrifice. Soldiers, according to popular moral platitudes, are lauded for the sacrifices they make for the common good. Implied in this is the expectation that soldiers ought to be the type of people who are prepared to sacrifice themselves in defence of an ideal. Within the most popular framework for morally evaluating war, Just War Theory, sacrifice tends to be understood from within the deontological, rights-based framework that modern just war theorists favour. In this chapter I will aim to show how the conclusions drawn by considering sacrifice through a deontological lens can be enriched through the addition of virtue theoretical considerations, leading to a fuller account of sacrifice.
This chapter takes a philosophical approach to the idea of sacrifice in the military. It explores whether the predominant framework used for evaluating war, Just War Theory, is a suitable framework for understanding the sacrifices soldiers, commanders, and political leaders can be asked to make in times of war. Focussing on various conceptions of sacrifice, including physical and moral sacrifices, the chapter argues that the predominantly deontological formulation of modern just war theories could be enriched by considering notions surrounding the ancient Greek concept of arete (virtue). Thus, as well as being a detailed exposition of sacrifice in war, the chapter also seeks to show how consideration of aretaic notions such as virtue, character and moral psychology can enrich just war theories responses to various issues.
The value of this research is in suggesting that soldiers are morally obligated to accept more risk than modern warfare typically places, or at least historically has placed, on them. It also has implications for military ethics education in that it suggests that soldiers’ characters should be shaped in such a way as to dispose them to sacrifice. Further, it has implications for the use of Just War Theory in international relations by introducing a moral framework through which political leaders can determine when they might be morally obligated to forgive the indiscretions of another nation, and what it means to forgive in this context. As such, it makes a contribution to a growing discussion within Just War Theory: jus post bellum – the moral norms surrounding the resolution of conflict.
This Chapter applies the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas to business’ role in the ‘War on Terror’. Specifically, it uses Levinasian ethics to explain how organisations…
This Chapter applies the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas to business’ role in the ‘War on Terror’. Specifically, it uses Levinasian ethics to explain how organisations, often with an abundance of ethical resources, become associated with military drones strikes against civilians, and offers ideas that challenge this practice. The chapter comprises several sections beginning with a brief introduction to the ‘War on Terror’ and the use of military drones. A concise discussion about business ethics and just war theory follows after which, the chapter explains Levinas’ ethics and his views on war. These ideas are applied to transform business ethical practice in this controversial area. The Chapter concludes with a summary of its main points.
In a series of mid-20th century cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has modified and diversified the status of the enemy in U.S. law. We see a shift away from the statist…
In a series of mid-20th century cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has modified and diversified the status of the enemy in U.S. law. We see a shift away from the statist egalitarian model toward a transnationalized model of enemies. U.S. Supreme Court decisions in three clusters of cases (German enemy aliens, the internment of the West Coast Japanese Americans, and Communist) from the 1940s and 1950s prefigure the radicalized post-9/11 “enemy combatant” status. The choice for such enemy conceptions is both a result of and a contribution to the changes in contemporary practices of violence.