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Not Making Exceptions: A Response to Shue

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This article refutes Henry Shue's claim that in the case of preventive military attacks it is sometimes morally permissible to make an exception to the fundamental principle regarding the inviolability of individual rights. By drawing on a comparison between torture and preventive military attacks, I will argue that the potential risks of institutionalizing preventive military attacks — what I call the Institutionalizing Argument — are far too great to even contemplate. Two potential risks with setting up a bureaucracy which specializes in preventive military attacks will be highlighted: that any preventive military strike may nourish a cycle of violence that will inevitably cause more deaths and destruction than could ever be justified; and that such preventive military strikes may be abused by political leaders in a desperate effort to hold on to power, including democratically elected political leaders working within a democratic framework.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University College Cork, 1 & 2 Lucan Place, Western Road, Cork, Ireland

Publication date: August 1, 2009

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