The concept of responsibility in the ethics of self-defense and war

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The focus of this paper is an influential family of views in the ethics of self-defense and war: views that ground the agent’s liability to be attacked in self-defense in the agent’s moral responsibility for the threat posed (“Responsibility Views”). I critically examine the concept of responsibility employed by such views, by looking at potential connections with the contemporary literature on moral responsibility. I start by uncovering some of the key assumptions that Responsibility Views make about the relevant concept of responsibility, and by scrutinizing those assumptions under the lens of more general theorizing about responsibility. I identify an important conflict that arises at that point. The problem is that the concept presupposed by Responsibility Views is in tension with the standard way of understanding the connection between the neutral and non-neutral forms of moral responsibility. I draw attention to a particular strategy that could be used to address this challenge, but I also identify some important obstacles that stand in the way.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3561-3577
Number of pages17
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • blameworthiness
  • defensive harm
  • ethics of war
  • liability
  • moral responsibility
  • self-defense

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


Dive into the research topics of 'The concept of responsibility in the ethics of self-defense and war'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this