Doing Evil Justly? The Morality of Justifiable Abomination

Mark Evans

in Evil in Contemporary Political Theory

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780748641963
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652860 | DOI:
Doing Evil Justly? The Morality of Justifiable Abomination

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Evil has always been a central issue in just-war theory. This chapter argues, however, that just-war theory has been so preoccupied with justice in the declaration and conduct of war that it has neglected the implications of recognising that even just warriors unavoidably do evil. If just war is often characterised as the lesser of two evils, it is still an evil, and one that must be confronted as a tough consequence of morality in a non-ideal world. This focuses attention on the neglected notion of jus post bellum, justice in the ending and aftermath of war. Jus post bellum, this chapter argues, obliges just warriors to set just terms for peace, recognise their responsibility for a fair share of the burdens of war, and to take a full part in processes of forgiveness and reconciliation. Even the most just war involves the willful infliction of moral evils.

Keywords: just-war theory; conduct of war; justice; morality; moral evils; war evils; jus post bellum

Chapter.  8291 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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