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Weighing Lives in War$
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Jens David Ohlin, Larry May, and Claire Finkelstein

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198796176

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198796176.001.0001

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Compensation and Proportionality in War

Compensation and Proportionality in War

(p.173) 7 Compensation and Proportionality in War
Weighing Lives in War

Saba Bazargan-Forward

Oxford University Press

Virtually all wars inflict massive casualties on innocent civilians. Even if inflicting such casualties is justified all things considered, the victims are owed compensation—or so I argue. In doing so, I address two questions. First, who owes the compensatory duties in cases where the casualties were justifiably inflicted? I argue that those who authorize the justified infringements and who benefit from those harms must compensate the victims if the war’s unjust aggressor cannot or will not do so. Second, what happens if it is reasonable to surmise beforehand that we will culpably fail to discharge our compensatory duties post bellum? I argue that satisfying the war’s proportionality constraint is virtually impossible under those conditions. A lesson is that failing to take duties of compensation seriously constrains the moral permission to protect ourselves.

Keywords:   compensation, redress, proportionality, civilians, rights infringement, beneficiary, collateral damage

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