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Title: Reconceptualizing the just war tradition : the morality of asymmetric war
Author: Luther, Damien Eileen
ISNI:       0000 0004 5372 0407
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis in political theory explores the salient moral problems of asymmetric war. It begins with the assumption that the just war tradition provides an important language for addressing asymmetric war. I argue, however, that the modern conception of the tradition is statist and it should be reconceptualized from a cosmopolitan perspective. This claim is applied to four problems. The first problem is that asymmetric war involves non-state actors who, under the modern account of the principle of legitimate authority, cannot have the authority to engage in war. After challenging prevailing conceptions of the relationship between sovereignty and authority, I argue that non-state actors can have legitimate authority. The second problem is that non-state actors often look more like civilians than soldiers and use the civilian population as cover and, thus, questions arise about combatant equality and responsibility. Contrary to dominant conceptions of combatants and responsibility, I argue that non-state actors can be considered combatant equals and that certain 'non-state' tactics do not affect their status since such tactics are not necessarily irresponsible. The third problem is whether assassination is a justifiable tactic. Three positions are evaluated: a policy of absolute prohibition; assassination justified as a means of state-sanctioned revenge and punishment of terrorists; and assassination justified as 'named killing.' None, however, are successful. Nevertheless, I argue that assassination is a justifiable tactic of war, within some limitations, since it can be more discriminate and proportionate than other tactics. The fourth problem is whether terrorism is a justifiable tactic, whether as a means of bringing people out of 'bad lives,' equalizing or redistributing rights violations, or necessary in a supreme emergency. I conclude that regardless of how terrorism is justified, the tactic is immoral and its use entails a flagrant disregard for the principle of noncombatant immunity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available