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Recently a number of liberal political theorists, including Rawls and Walzer, have argued for a ‘supreme emergency exemption’ from the traditional just war principle of discrimination which absolutely prohibits direct attacks against innocent civilians, claiming that a political community threatened with destruction may deliberately target innocents in order to save itself. I argue that this ‘supreme emergency exemption’ implies that individuals too may kill innocents in supreme emergencies. This is a significant theoretical cost. While it will not constitute a decisive refutation of all arguments for a supreme emergency exemption, my hope is that many will see this cost of endorsing the exemption as unacceptable.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Air University, Montgomery, Alabama

Publication date: 2005-10-01

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