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Download Killing bin Laden: A Moral Analysis by Bradley Jay Strawser (auth.) PDF

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By Bradley Jay Strawser (auth.)

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Additional info for Killing bin Laden: A Moral Analysis

Example text

Also, there are some views of capital punishment that do, in fact, view it not as a desert-based justification for killing but a form of self-defense. I find such views confusing and, at any rate, discussion of them exceeds the scope of this book. ) For a broader discussion of punishment and desert and a thorough engagement with these issues, see Victor Tadros, The Ends of Harm (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011). 5 Interestingly, it seems this may be the moral justification that President Obama believed obtained in this case.

Others argue against assassination because they hold that political leaders should not be held personally or individually liable for the actions of the state or group they represent. In any case, if one believes that the United States (or any state) is within its moral rights to assassinate individuals regardless of their liability or threat, then one would likely conclude that the United States acted permissibly in killing UBL on such grounds. Similarly, one could simply hold what’s known as a realpolitik or International Political Realism view of war that prioritizes national self-interest as the proper basis for determining a state’s course of action.

Instead, I present these approaches by way of contrast with the liability account for permissible harm that I employ in the UBL case. I will briefly review those justifications that were most commonly heard from politicians and popular media outlets in the wake of UBL’s killing. The aim of doing so is to show that such accounts are generally more permissive than the liability account sketched in Chapter 1 and would likely be similarly more permissive in the case of UBL. One could hold, for example, that UBL’s killing was simply an assassination and that assassinations can be morally justified.

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