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Just assassinations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 November 2013

Eamon Aloyo*
Global Justice Senior Analyst at the Global Governance Institute, Brussels, Belgium


I argue that widely accepted just war theory precepts morally allow and require the assassination of politically powerful individuals under some circumstances instead of waging a just war or implementing any other policy such as non-targeted economic sanctions that would very likely severely harm more innocents. While all just war theory precepts permit just assassinations under certain circumstances, proportionality, necessity, and last resort make just assassinations required whenever they would cause severe harm to the fewest innocents. There are several implications of my argument. First, there are fewer circumstances when wars and other policies that foreseeably but unintentionally harm innocents are just than is commonly thought. Second, the realm of morally permissible violent and non-violent action for powerful individuals is more limited than many presume and politicians are more often morally liable to actions that would mitigate or end objectively unjust serious threats for which they are culpable, although this does not always include lethal force.

Original Papers
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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