Legitimate Authority

Uwe Steinhoff

in On the Ethics of War and Terrorism

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780199217373
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780191712470 | DOI:
 Legitimate Authority

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This chapter argues that contrary to the tradition of just war theory, every single individual is a legitimate authority and has, under certain circumstances, the right to declare war on others or the state provided only that he or she proceeds responsibly in the decision process, that is, by circumspect and rational consideration of the relevant information and moral aspects. This is only a consequent application of a perspective that is enlightened, liberal, and oriented by individual rights. In contrast, the view that such rights are due only to the state and its representatives and not to the individual is premodern, that is, medieval, or based on some kind of state metaphysics. The chapter also demonstrates that attempts to define terrorism by reference to a lack of legitimate authority fail.

Keywords: guerrilla; individual; jus ad bellum; legitimate authority; liberalism; state; terrorism

Chapter.  6064 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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