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date: 16 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Just war theory (JWT) has undergone a radical revision over the last two decades. This chapter discusses the implications of this reformulation for the role of JWT in International Political Theory (IPT) and for JWT’s strategic usefulness. Revisionists’ consistent prioritization of individual rights means JWT now follows the strictures of justified violence according to contemporary IPT. At the same time, the collective nature of war makes it impossible for anyone but the omniscient attacker to properly protect individual rights and thus to directly implement revisionist prescriptions. I argue that revisionism is strategically relevant not in spite of, but because of this lack of practicability on the battlefield. It highlights the impossibility of waging war in accordance with widespread expectations of moral appropriateness, which largely follow the strictures of justified violence according to contemporary IPT. This is a crucial limitation to the political utility of force in twenty-first-century international relations.

Keywords: revisionist just war theory, conventional just war theory, jus ad bellum, jus in bello, principle of distinction, aggression, self-defence, intervention, individual rights, attitudes towards violence

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