Revisionist Just War Theory and the Impossibility of a Moral Victory

Chris Brown

in Moral Victories

Published in print November 2017 | ISBN: 9780198801825
Published online November 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780191840395 | DOI:
Revisionist Just War Theory and the Impossibility of a Moral Victory

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Recently, the militarization of the police has received much comment while less attention has been given to the application of civilian legal and moral standards to soldiers in combat zones. This shift is partly the product of ‘revisionist’ just war theorists, who understand war in terms of individual responsibility, challenging conventional views on the rights of states to defend themselves and replacing the Law of Armed Conflict with International Human Rights Law. This is a retrograde step; it loses contact with realities of warfare and validates the critique of just war thinking as encouraging a Manichean worldview. Classical just war thinking is about discrimination, avoiding the absolutism of both pacifism and an amoral realpolitik; revisionist just war theory is effectively pacifist insofar as no actual war could be fought that would satisfy its conditions. Discrimination disappears, and with it the possibility of a moral or any other kind of victory.

Keywords: civilian legal standards; civilian moral standards; revisionist just war theory; human rights; militaristic policing; pacifism

Chapter.  7140 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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