Double Effect and the Laws of War

Kai Draper

in The Ethics of War

Published in print March 2017 | ISBN: 9780199376148
Published online March 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780199376162 | DOI:
Double Effect and the Laws of War

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In the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC), a distinction is drawn between harming noncombatants directly (that is, as a foreseen consequence of attacking them), and harming them indirectly (that is, as a foreseen consequence of attacking military targets). The former is a war crime, the latter is not. Moreover, although under LOAC some acts that are not criminal are nevertheless prohibited, harming noncombatants indirectly is not even prohibited so long as the harm is minimized and there is an adequate military justification for the attack that inflicts the harm. Kai Draper argues that the justification for this distinction in LOAC is not to be found in the principle of double effect or in any similar principle. He defends instead the view that the most plausible justification for the legal distinction can be found in the fact that its presence in LOAC is apt to reduce the unjust harm that is always a regrettable product of war.

Keywords: Doctrine of Double Effect; LOAC; War; Means Principle

Chapter.  10495 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy ; Philosophy

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