Jus ad vim and the just use of lethal force-short-of-war

Shannon Ford

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


In this chapter, I argue that the notion which Michael Walzer calls jus ad vim might improve the moral evaluation for using military lethal force in conflicts other than war, particularly those situations of conflict short-of-war. First, I describe his suggested approach to morally justifying the use of lethal force outside the context of war. I argue that Walzer's jus ad vim is a broad concept that encapsulates a state's mechanisms for exercising power short-of-war. I focus on his more narrow use of jus ad vim which is the state's use of lethal force. Next I address Tony Coady's critique of jus ad vim.16 I argue that Coady highlights some important problems with jus ad vim, but these concerns are not sufficient to dismiss it completely. Then, in the final section, I argue that jus ad vim provides an appropriate "hybrid" moral framework for judging the ethical decision-making outside of war by complementing other conventional just war distinctions. A benefit of jus ad vim is that it stops us expanding the definition of war while still providing the necessary ethical framework for examining violent conflict outside that context.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge handbook of ethics and war
Subtitle of host publicationJust war theory in the 21st century
EditorsFritz Allhoff, Nicholas G. Evans, Adam Henschke
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780203107164
ISBN (Print)9780415539340
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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