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On the Ethics of War and Terrorism$
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Uwe Steinhoff

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199217373

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199217373.001.0001

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Legitimate Authority

Legitimate Authority

(p.7) 1 Legitimate Authority
On the Ethics of War and Terrorism

Uwe Steinhoff (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that contrary to the tradition of just war theory, every single individual is a legitimate authority and has, under certain circumstances, the right to declare war on others or the state provided only that he or she proceeds responsibly in the decision process, that is, by circumspect and rational consideration of the relevant information and moral aspects. This is only a consequent application of a perspective that is enlightened, liberal, and oriented by individual rights. In contrast, the view that such rights are due only to the state and its representatives and not to the individual is premodern, that is, medieval, or based on some kind of state metaphysics. The chapter also demonstrates that attempts to define terrorism by reference to a lack of legitimate authority fail.

Keywords:   guerrilla, individual, jus ad bellum, legitimate authority, liberalism, state, terrorism

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