Costly authority and transferred responsibility

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Revisionist just war theorists maintain that, soldiers, and not merely their leaders or superiors, bear moral responsibility for objectively wrongful harms imposed in pursuit of an unjust war. The conviction that underlies revisionism is that a person's responsibility for her intentional, objectively unjustified, killing is non-transferable. In this essay I aim to elaborate a specific counterexample to this general claim. I will argue that in cases that I characterize as "special authority cases", the moral responsibility for the unintended outcomes that a person brings about because of following the orders of a legitimate authority is transferred to the authority.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3579-3595
Number of pages17
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Jonathan Parry
  • Legitimate authority
  • Liability
  • Massimo Renzo
  • Responsibility


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