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Justa piratica: the ethics of piracy

Abstract
Abstract

There has been widespread and vociferous condemnation of Somali piracy and several states have used force against the pirates. This reflects the prevailing view of pirates as belligerents and aggressors who act wrongly. In this article, I challenge this view by defending the conditional moral permissibility of piracy. More specifically, I first argue that piracy can be morally permissible when certain conditions are met. These are what I call the principles of ‘justa piratica’, that is, the principles of just piracy. Second, I claim that these conditions are likely to apply to some Somali pirates. Third, as a corollary, I argue that the case of piracy shows that one of the shibboleths of Just War Theory – that a war cannot be just on both sides – is mistaken.

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Review of International Studies
  • ISSN: 0260-2105
  • EISSN: 1469-9044
  • URL: /core/journals/review-of-international-studies
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