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War and Individual Rights

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Sept. 16, 2015--Philosopher Kai Draper has proposed an alternative to the traditional “just war” theory, seeking a new theory that is consistent with commonsense morality and traditional American values.

Draper, professor and chairperson of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Delaware, details the theory in a new book, War and Individual Rights: The Foundations of Just War Theory, to be published Oct. 1 by Oxford University Press.

The book begins with Draper’s assumption that individual rights exist — an assumption that might seem to lead to pacifism because any sustained war can be expected to kill noncombatants as “collateral damage,” despite their individual right not to be killed. But War and Individual Rights concludes that sometimes war is justified.

Draper relies on the insights of John Locke to develop a framework of rights to serve as the foundation for a new just war theory. Unlike most other just war theories, this new theory does not rely on the doctrine of double effect, which states that it can be permissible to cause harm as a side effect of bringing about a good result.

Instead, Draper offers a single principle for assessing whether recourse to war is justified. The book also explores the question of how to distinguish between discriminate and indiscriminate violence in war.

In addition to his writing about the ethics of war, Draper writes on the significance of death, the ethics of self-defense and the nature of evidence. 

His work has appeared in the Philosophical Review, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Philosophical Studies, Nous, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research and other leading philosophical journals.

--From the UDaily

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