Proportionality and the recourse to war
in The ethics of war
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The criterion of proportionality requires potential combatants to consider whether or not war is a fitting or proportionate response to the injury that has been threatened or received. In this respect moral reasoning about war is seen to be no different from any other form of moral reasoning. The proportionality of the war needs to be viewed in relation to the international community as a whole. The international context and ramifications of a potential war have at times been crucial to determining its proportionality. In practice it seems that determining the prospects of success is simply one aspect of the general assessment of a war's worth or proportionality, rather than a limiting criterion that rules out recourse to war whenever the expectations of military success are low enough. In theory, the criterion can be seen to yield the moral ground.

The ethics of war

Second edition

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