Distributing Death in Humanitarian Interventions

In Bradley J. Strawser, Ryan Jenkins & Michael Robillard (eds.), Who Should Die? The Ethics of Killing in War. New York, USA: Oxford University Press (2018)
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Armed military interventions often inflict large amounts of collateral harm on innocent civilians. Ought intervening soldiers, when possible, to direct collateral harm to one innocent population group rather than the other? Recently several authors have proposed that expected beneficiaries of a military intervention ought to carry greater risk of collateral harm than neutral bystanders who are not subject to the threat the military forces are intervening to avert. According to this view, intervening soldiers ought to reduce the risk of collateral harm to neutral bystanders, even if this means foreseeably imposing a somewhat higher overall number of collateral casualties among those for whom the intervention is conducted. This chapter raises a number of challenges to this view. Even if the beneficiary thesis is accepted with respect to discrete risk-imposing acts, it should not be with respect to risk-imposing strategies individuated on a war-by-war basis.

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Lars Christie
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences


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