Distributive Justice for Aggressors

Law and Philosophy 39 (4):351-379 (2020)
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The individualist nature of much contemporary just war theory means that we often discuss cases with single attackers. But even if war is best understood in this individualist way, in war combatants often have to make decisions about how to distribute harms among a plurality of aggressors: they must decide whom and how many to harm, and how much to harm them. In this paper, I look at simultaneous multiple aggressor cases in which more than one distribution of harm among aggressors is available. I show how such cases pose deep questions concerning the nature, role, and scope of the necessity principle, and its relationship to both liability and narrow proportionality. I argue that a hitherto unrecognised measure – ‘narrow proportionality shortfall’ – and its distribution is relevant in choosing how to distribute harms across aggressors. I then extend this analysis to show how this may help us with a puzzle concerning sequential attacks.



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Patrick Tomlin
University of Warwick

Citations of this work

Self-Defense.Helen Frowe & Jonathan Parry - 2021 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2021.
Moral Sunk Costs in War and Self-Defence.Elad Uzan - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 71 (2):359-377.

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References found in this work

Necessity in Self-Defense and War.Seth Lazar - 2012 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 40 (1):3-44.
Justifying Harm.David Rodin - 2011 - Ethics 122 (1):74-110.
Necessity in Self‐Defense and War.Seth Lazar - 2012 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 40 (1):3-44.
War and poverty.Kieran Oberman - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (1):197-217.

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