Encyclopedia of Global Justice

2011 Edition
| Editors: Deen K. Chatterjee

McMahan, Jeff

  • Helen Frowe
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9160-5_482

Jeff McMahan’s political philosophy is primarily developed within the context of just war theory. Over the past 20 years, McMahan has challenged many of the assumptions of orthodox just war theory, most notably the claim that even an unjust war can be justly fought. Underpinning his account of the ethics of war is a wider conception of global justice that makes claims about human rights, the nature of states, international law, and our obligations to people in other countries. McMahan defends an individualist perspective of collective action that leads him to draw novel, and often controversial, conclusions about what justice requires.

Individualism and War

Those who defend a collectivistview of war argue that war is to be understood as a relationship not between persons, but between political collectives (usually states). We must thus treat the actions of combatants as undertaken on behalf of this collective, which means that we cannot judge their actions by the standards we apply...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen Frowe
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Kent, School of European Culture and LanguagesCanterburyUK