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...
- Hurka T (2007) Liability and just cause. Ethics Int Aff 21(2):199–218Google Scholar
- Lazar S (2010) The responsibility dilemma for Killing in War: a review essay. Philos Public Aff 38(2):180–213Google Scholar
- McMahan J (2009a) The morality of military occupation. Loyola Int Comp Law Rev 31:101–123Google Scholar
- McMahan J (2009b) Killing in war. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- McMahan J (2010a) Humanitarian intervention, consent, and proportionality. In: Davis AN, Keshen R, McMahan J (eds) Ethics and humanity: themes from the philosophy of Jonathan Glover. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- McMahan J (2010b) The just distribution of harm between combatants and noncombatants. Philos Public Aff 38(4):342–379Google Scholar
- McMahan J (2011) The conditions of liability to preventive attack. In: Chatterjee D (ed) Gathering threat: the ethics of preventive war. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar