The indispensable mental element of justification and the failure of purely objectivist (mostly “revisionist”) just war theories

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The “right intention” requirement, in the form of a requirement that the agent must have a justified true belief that the mind-independent conditions of the justification to use force are fulfilled, is not an additional criterion, but one that constrains the interpretation of the other criteria. Without it, the only possible interpretation of the mind-independent criteria is purely objectivist, that is, purely fact-relative. Pure objectivism condemns self-defense and just war theory to irrelevance since it cannot provide proper action guidance: it is impractically demanding. This means that “revisionist” just war theories which base their doctrine of the moral inequality of combatants on the idea that objective justification defeats liability are irrelevant for the real world, where objective justification is virtually inaccessible. Moreover, only the right intention requirement in the form of a knowledge requirement, as opposed to requiring “good intentions” or “acceptable motivations,” can solve this problem.
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Archival date: 2020-02-16
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