War for the Wrong Reasons: Lessons from Law

11 Journal of Moral Philosophy 454 (2014)

23 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2014

Date Written: August 29, 2014


In Ethics for Enemies, Frances Kamm argues that, under certain conditions, it is morally permissible for a state to launch a war for opportunistic reasons. We consider how law might shed light on Kamm’s argument. Part I addresses the application of criminal and tort law to individual acts of violence analogous to the acts of war analyzed by Kamm. It primarily argues that these bodies of law rely on a framework for determining legal permissibility that runs counter to, and perhaps demonstrates weaknesses in, Kamm’s framework for assessing moral permissibility. Part II considers the law of war. It maintains that, although modern law permits certain opportunistic acts of war, the law does so on terms that cut against Kamm’s claim as to their moral permissibility.

Suggested Citation

Blum, Gabriella and Goldberg, John C. P., War for the Wrong Reasons: Lessons from Law (August 29, 2014). 11 Journal of Moral Philosophy 454 (2014), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2489202

Gabriella Blum

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

John C. P. Goldberg (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

Areeda 232
1545 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2086 (Phone)

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