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  • Cited by 5
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    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Stout, Nathan P. 2016. Assembling an army: considerations for just war theory. Journal of Global Ethics, Vol. 12, Issue. 2, p. 204.

    Baker and, Deane-Peter and Pattison, James 2013. International Encyclopedia of Ethics.

    Fraser, Ben 2013. The Reluctant Mercenary: Vulnerability and the ‘Whores of War’. Journal of Military Ethics, Vol. 12, Issue. 3, p. 235.

    Janaby, Mohamad Ghazi 2016. The Legal Regime Applicable to Private Military and Security Company Personnel in Armed Conflicts.

    Begby, Endre Reichberg, Gregory M. and Syse, Henrik 2012. The Ethics of War. Part II: Contemporary Authors and Issues. Philosophy Compass, Vol. 7, Issue. 5, p. 328.


In Defence of Mercenarism


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.

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S. Percy , Mercenaries: The History of a Norm in International Relations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007)

L. Doswald-Beck , ‘Private Military Companies under International Humanitarian Law’, in Simon Chesterman and Chia Lehnardt, eds, From Mercenaries to Market: The Rise and Regulation of Private Military Companies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 115139

J. McMahan , ‘The Ethics of Killing in War’, Ethics, 114 (2004), 693733

T. Lynch and A. J. Walsh , ‘The Good Mercenary?’, Journal of Political Philosophy, 8 (2000), 133153

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British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
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