Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

The inconsistent reduction: an internal methodological critique of revisionist just war theory


Surber, Regina Sibylle (2024). The inconsistent reduction: an internal methodological critique of revisionist just war theory. Philosophia, 52(2):355-378.

Abstract

This article argues that the reduction of the morality of killing in war to the morality of killing in self-defense by ‘reductive-individualist’ revisionist just war theories is inconsistent, because when those theories apply the moral notion of self-defense to the morality of killing in war, they do not preserve the two conceptions of the “individual” inherent in this notion. The article demonstrates this inconsistency in two steps: First, it disentangles the two conceptions of the individual inherent to the notion of self-defense, namely (1) that the individual is an “entity” potentially bearing a right to self-defense (unlike, e.g., groups) and (2) that the individual is a “particular,” where “particular” signifies that every human is different from every other human. The conception of the individual as a “particular” is tied to the idea that a justification grounded in a rule of self-defense is necessarily “concrete,” in the sense of referring to individually given and specific perceptions or cases, as opposed to “abstract,” in the sense of being detached from specific perceptions or cases. The article then demonstrates that reductive individualism reflects the first notion of the individual, but not the second. Due to the “loss” of the individual as a “particular”, the reductive-individualist reduction of the morality of killing in war to the morality of killing in self-defense is inconsistent, and hence its justification of killing in war grounded in self-defense is not concrete. Since such a justification must be concrete, reductive individualism cannot offer a justification for belligerent killing.

Abstract

This article argues that the reduction of the morality of killing in war to the morality of killing in self-defense by ‘reductive-individualist’ revisionist just war theories is inconsistent, because when those theories apply the moral notion of self-defense to the morality of killing in war, they do not preserve the two conceptions of the “individual” inherent in this notion. The article demonstrates this inconsistency in two steps: First, it disentangles the two conceptions of the individual inherent to the notion of self-defense, namely (1) that the individual is an “entity” potentially bearing a right to self-defense (unlike, e.g., groups) and (2) that the individual is a “particular,” where “particular” signifies that every human is different from every other human. The conception of the individual as a “particular” is tied to the idea that a justification grounded in a rule of self-defense is necessarily “concrete,” in the sense of referring to individually given and specific perceptions or cases, as opposed to “abstract,” in the sense of being detached from specific perceptions or cases. The article then demonstrates that reductive individualism reflects the first notion of the individual, but not the second. Due to the “loss” of the individual as a “particular”, the reductive-individualist reduction of the morality of killing in war to the morality of killing in self-defense is inconsistent, and hence its justification of killing in war grounded in self-defense is not concrete. Since such a justification must be concrete, reductive individualism cannot offer a justification for belligerent killing.

Statistics

Citations

Altmetrics

Downloads

5 downloads since deposited on 22 May 2024
8 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:01 Faculty of Theology and the Study of Religion > Center for Ethics
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Dewey Decimal Classification:100 Philosophy
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Philosophy
Uncontrolled Keywords:Just war theory, Ethics of war, Ethics of self-defense, Revisionist just war theory,· Reductive individualism, Individual rights
Language:English
Date:3 May 2024
Deposited On:22 May 2024 15:19
Last Modified:30 Jun 2024 01:41
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0048-3893
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11406-024-00733-5
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)