Just and unjust targeting killings in war : a critical analysis of targeted killing within the just war tradiction

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This research focuses on two specific areas discussed in political theory: the ethics of war and the ethics of self-defense. The question that motivates this study is deceptively simple. Is it permissible to kill, under the practice of targeted killing (TK), a particular combatant purposefully and intentionally and separately from all other combatants? The current literature seems to suggest that targeting, specific combatants is a legitimate form of killing. I disagree. What the literature fails to notice is that their theories exceedingly rely on the collective identity of the targets. This flaw produces a form of liability that does not inform us of anything particularly relevant about the combatant, besides the fact that he is a member of a collective. And since TK is a individualize form of killing, there should be something specific about the individual other than he is a member of a collective. This deficiency is not without its justification. It is a practical maneuver to confront the realities of war. However, when targeted killing is employed to kill a single combatant, the normative circumstances change. In order to answer the suggested question, I make a two-step approach. First, I examine and argue in favor of a principle of self-defense that I believe to be best suited to justify the use of lethal defensive force. This principle is based on a causality concept of liability. If a person is a cause of an unjustified threat, killing him will be permissible. This principle distinguishes itself from others by rejecting traditional moral concepts such as culpability and responsibility and innocence as irrelevant. Secondly, after an ethical analysis of TK, I test TK with war case scenarios with the proposed principle. The result is that TK is permissible in armed conflict, and under specific conditions, and could also be employed against non-combatants.
Tesis (Doctor en Ciencia Política)--Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2022