DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3984-1.ch005
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At this stage, the author claims to have established that weapons designers are obliged to justify their work and do so with reference to the historical circumstances in which the products of this work are to be located. How are they to do this? This chapter addresses that general question. To this end, the idea of justification is elucidated, and then ways in which weapons designers can try to construct justifications are considered. Three candidates emerge to be examined in detail in the remaining chapters. However, a general criterion which any such justification must satisfy is identified, and in view of the difficulty, if not impossibility, of this being achieved, the author suggests that the prospects of justification seem remote.
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Justification And ‘Exculpation’

A justification is intended to be ‘exculpatory’; it is intended to be sufficient for an agent to avoid blame for an action she has committed which is deemed to be morally wrong, and for which she is responsible. A justification is thus a reason why the agent does not in fact deserve blame. This may be the reason why the agent did what she did, but it need not be. It need not be what she intended, it need not be the reason why she actually did what she did. Why is this? I adopt this viewpoint because I do not believe that agent intention completely determines matters such as agent responsibility, (though it does influence the way we think of her as a person, or her character). To require justifications to be given in terms of agents’ own intentions would not be compatible with this position. And in any case it is not a good idea, because we want to allow the weapons designer the best justifications available and if we can show that these are unacceptable, then an irrefutable case has been made against weapons design. Let us say then that a justification is a reason that is available to the agent which is supposed to be sufficient for her to avoid blame. A reason is available to an agent if she is, or was, in a position to know about it or have access to it and to be able to appeal to it – all this will need to be spelled out in more detail later.

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