Douglas Lackey

Douglas Lackey, “Just War Theory,” in Larry May, Applied Ethics: A Multicultural Approach, Prentice Hall, 2011, 5th ed., pp. 262-269.

Lackey argues for the view that under certain conditions it is permissible to go to war. The conditions for determining whether a war is just are:

1) The war is declared by a legitimate authority. Public, not private, bodies must make the declaration of war.

2) The war is declared for a right intention or a just cause. Self-defense is a right intention, but colonial expansion and wars to bring a better way of life are not.

3) The declaration (jus ad bellum) and the execution (jus in bello) of war adhere to the rule of proportionality. War is a last resort.

4) In the execution of the war, the principle of discrimination must be observed. Killing must be directed at combatants (non-innocents), not at noncombatants (innocents).

5) The war is followed by a just peace. Tyrannical rule may not be imposed on a defeated country.


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