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Just War Theory, Legitimate Authority, and Irregular Belligerency
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy.
2015 (English)In: Philosophia (Ramat Gan), ISSN 0048-3893, E-ISSN 1574-9274, Vol. 43, no 1, 175-196 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Since its earliest incarnations, just war theory has included the requirement that war must be initiated and waged by a legitimate authority. However, while recent years have witnessed a remarkable resurgence in interest in just war theory, the authority criterion is largely absent from contemporary discussions. In this paper I aim to show that this is an oversight worth rectifying, by arguing that the authority criterion plays a much more important role within just war theorising than is commonly supposed. As standardly understood, the authority criterion provides a necessary condition for the justification of the resort to war, but has no bearing on the question of permissible conduct in war. In opposition, I argue for an alternative interpretation of the criterion, which attributes to it a fundamental role in assessing this latter question. With this revised interpretation in place, I then demonstrate its advantages by applying it to the practical issue of armed conflicts that are initiated and fought by non-traditional belligerents. While several theorists have recognised that this common feature of modern armed conflict poses a challenge to mainstream just war theory in general-and to the authority criterion in particular-I argue that existing discussions frequently misconstrue the nature of the challenge, since they assume the standard interpretation of the authority requirement and its role within the theory. I then show that the revised interpretation provides a clearer account of both the challenge posed by non-traditional belligerency and the kind of response that it requires.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 43, no 1, 175-196 p.
Keyword [en]
Just war theory, Legitimate authority, Non-state violence, Jus in bello, Jus ad bellum
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-117020DOI: 10.1007/s11406-014-9577-zISI: 000351693400013OAI: diva2:810056


Available from: 2015-05-06 Created: 2015-05-05 Last updated: 2015-05-06Bibliographically approved

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Parry, Jonathan
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