The Permissibility of Aiding and Abetting Unjust Wars
Journal of Moral Philosophy, Volume 8, Number 4, 2011, pp. 513-529.
17 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2017 Last revised: 13 Mar 2017
Date Written: January 31, 2011
Common sense suggests that if a war is unjust, then there is a strong moral reason not to contribute to it. I argue that this presumption is mistaken. It can be permissible to contribute to an unjust war because, in general, whether it is permissible to perform an act often depends on the alternatives available to the actor. The relevant alternatives available to a government waging a war differ systematically from the relevant alternatives available to individuals in a position to contribute to the war. Hence the conditions determining whether it is permissible for a government to wage a war often differ from the conditions determining whether it is permissible for others to promote that war. Th is difference is manifest most often in unjust wars with punitively humanitarian aims—an increasingly common type of war.
Keywords: war, just war theory, humanitarian intervention
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