Environmental Security and Just Causes for War

Almanac: Discourses of Ethics 10 (1):47-54 (2015)
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This article asks whether a country that suffers from serious environmental problems caused by another country could have a just cause for a defensive war? Danish philosopher Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen has argued that under certain conditions extreme poverty may give a just cause for a country to defensive war, if that poverty is caused by other countries. This raises the question whether the victims of environmental damages could also have a similar right to self-defense. Although the article concerns justice of war, we will concentrate only on the issue of what can be just causes of war, instead of evaluating the entire justification of war. This is to say that we will limit our discussion to the question concerning just cause and leave aside more general questions concerning justness and moral permissibility of war. Our aim is to list the questions that must be made and settled if defensive war in the case of serious environmental problems is said to have (or not to have) a just cause. We will argue that there are three questions that are most important in this context. They are the question concerning liability, the question of collective responsibility, and the question whether environmental harms may create a “sufficient reason” for raising a war.

Author Profiles

Andrei Rodin
Russian Academy of Sciences
Juha Räikkä
University of Turku


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