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date: 19 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Justified warfare requires far more than a just cause. The multiple necessary conditions to be satisfied before the inevitable deaths, wounds, and destruction of war, many inflicted wrongfully on combatants on both sides and on civilians, can be justified as a lesser evil also minimally include reasonable prospect of success, last resort, and proportionality of resort. Only a great evil to be resisted can constitute a just cause, and it must be empirically the case that military action has a reasonable prospect of stopping the resisted evil and is also necessary in being the least evil means of resistance, which is the meaning of last resort. Proportionality of resort, which is importantly different from proportionality in the conduct of war, can be assessed only by examining several questions concerning the evils created by the proposed war, including whose evils (only one’s own or predictable others) and which evils (which harms count).

Keywords: empirical argument, just cause, justification, lesser evil, proportionality

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