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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 43, Issue 4, October 2017

Isaac Taylor
Pages 717-740
DOI: 10.5840/soctheorpract2017103020

Just War Theory and the Military Response to Terrorism

This paper considers whether just war theory needs to be modified to assess the use of military force against terrorist groups. It rejects two existing arguments for doing this (“the contractualist justification” and “the policing model”), and outlines and defends a third (“the consequentialist justification”). Just war theory, it is claimed, is partially designed to bring about certain desirable consequences, and when empirical circumstances change in ways that mean following its principles is less likely to result in those consequences—as when terrorist groups are involved in conflicts—they need to be adjusted.

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