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Fabre, Cecile, , . In Defense of Mercenarism
2010, British Journal of Political Science 40 (2010): 539-559.
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Added by: John Baldari, Contributed by:

Abstract: The recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been characterized by the deployment of large private military forces, under contract with the US administration. The use of so-called private military corporations (PMCs) and, more generally, of mercenaries, has long attracted criticisms. This article argues that under certain conditions (drawn from the Just War tradition), there is nothing inherently objectionable about mercenarism. It begins by exposing a weakness in the most obvious justification for mercenarism, to wit, the justification from freedom of occupational choice. It then deploys a less obvious, but stronger, argument – one that appeals to the importance of enabling just defensive killings. Finally, it rebuts five moral objections to mercenarism.

Comment: This text is best used as a secondary reading for advanced war theory and military ethics.
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Lepora, Chiara, , . Individual Complicity: The Tortured Patient
2013, In Chiara Lepora & Robert Goodin (eds.), On complicity and compromise. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: Medical complicity in torture is prohibited by international law and codes of professional ethics. But in the many countries in which torture is common, doctors frequently are expected to assist unethical acts that they are unable to prevent. Sometimes these doctors face a dilemma: they are asked to provide diagnoses or treatments that respond to genuine health needs but that also make further torture more likely or more effective. The duty to avoid complicity in torture then comes into conflict with the doctor’s duty to care for patients. Sometimes the right thing for a doctor to do requires complicity in torture. Whether this is the case depends on: the expected consequences of the doctor’s actions; the wishes of the patient; and the extent of the doctor’s complicity with wrongdoing. Medical associations can support physicians who face this dilemma while maintaining a commitment to clear principles denouncing torture.

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Sherman, Nancy, , . Empathy, Respect, and Humanitarian Intervention
1998, Ethics and International Affairs 12(1): 103–119.
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Added by: John Baldari, Contributed by:

Abstract: This essay examines the moral attitudes that underlie commitments to humanitarian intervention. Specifically, the essay seeks to explain how respect and empathy together create the ethical imperative for humanitarian intervention. Traditionally excluded from the formal discourse on humanitarian intervention, empathy is presented as an integral component of making the “ought” of humanitarian intervention psychologically feasible.

The essay presents a slightly revised definition of empathy, in which empathy is the cognitive ability to place oneself in the world of another, imagining all of the realities, feelings, and circumstances of that person in the context of their world. This differs from the notion that feelings of empathy are limited to those with whom one shares a close relationship. The essay contends that the ability to identify with others is necessary in order to mobilize the feelings of respect for others into acts of humanitarian intervention.

Comment: Sherman presents a slightly revised definition of empathy, in which empathy is the cognitive ability to place oneself in the world of another, imagining all of the realities, feelings, and circumstances of that person in the context of their world. Useful article to compliment discussions on the humanitarian role in war.

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Sherman, Nancy, , . Torturers and the Tortured
2006, South African Journal of Philosophy 25(1): 77-88.
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Added by: John Baldari, Contributed by:

Abstract: Patrick Lenta and Jessica Wolfendale have written two very thoughtful discussions on torture. A central question that arises in responding to these essays in terms of my recent book, Stoic Warriors, is whether ancient Stoicism affords any insights into both the propensity to inflict torture as well as the capacity to endure it. Wolfendale suggests that the learned capacity to endure torture, and in particular, becoming desensitised to pain, may be part of the psychological background that informs a willingness to inflict torture. Training in resisting torture, such as that which special operations troops typically go through, involves not only learning techniques, which can then be reverse engineered in applying torture (what some argue has happened in Guantanamo Bay), but also learning the kind of stress inoculation that makes one willing to use those techniques. In short, military training that involves torture resistance hardens one’s soul and makes one indifferent to the suffering that torture involves. This indifference, Wolfendale claims, is not unlike Stoic apathy. I want to argue, on the contrary, that Stoic apathy is substantively different. However, before making the case, I take up a number of other preliminary points raised in both papers. I conclude with some remarks about interrogation in general.

Comment: This article is useful for post ad bellum discussions in philosophy of war, in addition to being recommended additional reading for political philosophy and ethics.

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