Duty and Liability

23 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2011

See all articles by Victor Tadros

Victor Tadros

University of Warwick - School of Law

Date Written: October 25, 2011


This paper is concerned with the relationship between a person’s duty to perform a goal at some cost to herself and a person’s liability to be harmed in pursuit of that goal. This relationship, it is suggested, is fundamental. In order to determine whether a person is liable to be harmed as a means to a certain end, it is suggested, that person must have an enforceable duty to serve that end. This account of liability is contrasted with Jeff McMahan’s view in Killing in War. McMahan suggests that a person is liable to be harmed to avert a threat only if that person is responsible for creating the threat. By showing that there are enforceable duties that do not arise from responsibility, it is shown that this account of liability is too limited. The implications of the duty-based view of liability are then explored in the context of war, especially with respect to the harming of innocent civilians on the unjust side who have unknowingly contributed to the war-effort.

Keywords: Killing, morality, responsibility, liability, self defense

Suggested Citation

Tadros, Victor, Duty and Liability (October 25, 2011). Warwick School of Law Research Paper No. 2011-10, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1949030 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1949030

Victor Tadros (Contact Author)

University of Warwick - School of Law ( email )

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