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date: 25 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

In this chapter, the author explores the requirement of proportionality in the killing of civilians in war. The work first examines the general notion of proportionality in defensive harming. It then explores proportionality in the resort to war and explains why the traditional theory of just war claims that proportionality in individual acts of war must be different. The author argues that the traditional theory’s claim is a mistake and that when a war lacks just aims, individual acts of harming can seldom be proportionate. Finally, the author considers proportionality as a constraint on violence in a war with just aims, claiming that, in some instances, judgments of proportionality in the conduct of war can be surprisingly precise, though much depends on assumptions about certain fundamental issues in moral theory, such as whether there is an ‘agent-relative permission’ to give some degree of priority to one’s own life.

Keywords: proportionality, necessity in defence, jus in bello, jus ad bellum, just war, collateral damage, civilian immunity

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