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Philosophy/Right intention


I'm doing research on the jus ad bellum principles based on two main sources:

1. MOSELEY, Alexander. Just war theory. In: The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2009. <>.

2. OREND, Brian. War. In: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Fall 2008 Edition, Edward N. Zalta (ed.). <>.

I need help to criticize the Right Intention principle of jus ad bellum. Such principle basically means that a country must not wage war based on self-interest.

Moseley presents an critique based on Kant, but I didn't understand a thing about it. Could you help me to understand it and, perhaps, present me with another critique on people's intention being right or wrong.


For Kant, the only good thing was a good will, and the test of a good will was whether or not you could, without contradiction, will that the "maxim of your action" -- the rule you followed in deciding how to act -- could be made a universal law. Such decisions are supposed to be always self-disinterested; that is, the decision should not depend on the fact that I am me and not you. It's an extreme version of the golden rule.

Moseley's critique basically says that no NATION -- the entity to which the laws of war apply -- can be that disinterested. Its interests are unique to it. No nation can legislate for all other nations the way one rational man can legislate for all men.

The other aspect of his critique is that no man -- or nation -- has the luxury of unmixed motives. It is usually impossible to will, or desire, just one thing to the exclusion of all others. And that makes "right intention" very dicey.

Hope this helps.




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Charles K. MacKay


I can answer a number of questions in philosophy; my academic concentrations (graduate school at Cornell) are ethics, political philosophy, and 19th-century German philosophy (Marx, Hegel, and hangers-on.)



BA, New College, 1971, Philosophy and Religion
Awarded four graduate fellowships upon graduation

MA, Cornell University, 1974
Social and Political Philosophy, Danforth Fellowship

All course work and dissertation drafts completed for Ph.D. Cornell University, 1971-1975, Social and Political Philosophy, Danforth Fellowship

Courses in statistics and microeconomics, George Washington University and The American University, 1976-1978

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Bachelor of Arts, Philosphy and Religion, New College, 1971 Master of Arts, Social and Political Philosophy, Cornell University, 1975

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