Just cause
in The ethics of war
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Traditionally 'just cause' was seen as the single most important moral criterion of war. There are at least three ways in which the idea of an offensive war becomes at least partially acceptable and reconcilable with the modern approach to war. The right of self-defence, which forms the bedrock of the approach, embraces the right to resist an ongoing attack; but it also includes the right to resist an act of aggression that has already achieved its objective. The second way in which the offensive war may be admitted as a corollary of the right of self-defence is in the form of a preemptive strike. The third way in which the offensive war finds partial acceptance within the defender-aggressor approach to war is through the extension of the right of self-defence from an individual state to a collection or alliance of states.

The ethics of war

Second edition

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