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8It does not matter if killing one person allows me to save one hundred people, to kill one person would be to violate the duty (rule) against killing. It is therefore forbidden. An exception to this rule is the theory known as “threshold deontology”: “A threshold deontologist holds that deontological norms govern up to a point despite adverse consequences; but when the consequences become so dire that they cross the stipulated threshold, consequentialism takes over.”9Threshold deontology has found sympathy amongst many military ethicists, evidenced by discussions of “supreme emergencies,”which will be explored throughout this thesis. The centrality of rules in deontology has also found manifestation in the military in a specific form: the form of codified lawsthat regulate how states and individuals conduct themselves during war. Threshold deontology is a manifestation of deontological ethics that makes concessions to a different moral theory known as consequentialism. Consequentialism argues that actions are judged as good or bad based solely 7C.f. Maheran Zakaria & Norhaini Mat Lajis, ‘Moral Philosophies Underlying Ethical Judgments’, International Journal of Marketing Studies, vol. 4, no. 2, 2012, 103-110 at 103; Peter Olsthoorn & Rene Moelker, ‘Virtue Ethics and Military Ethics’, Journal of Military Ethics, vol. 6, no. 4, 2007, 257-258 at 257. 8Alexander & Moore, op. cit.9Ibid.
6 on the outcomes they yield.10This mode of thinking, is described by one of its early proponents, John-Stuart Mill, as: The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals “utility”or the “greatest happiness principle”[and which] holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain; by happiness, pain and the privation of pleasure […] what things it includes in the ideas of pain and pleasure, and to what extent […] is left an open question. But these supplementary explanations do not affect the theory of life on which this theory of morality is grounded.11Consequentialism (also called utilitarianism)12is commonly described by the catch-cry ‘the greatest good for the greatest number.’ When evaluating what one should do in a particular circumstance, a person ought to consider the various possible consequences on all the people involved, and choose the course of action that maximises the amount of happiness enjoyed. In the context of military ethics, consequentialism may justify, for instance, an air strike destroying a village housing both insurgents and large numbers of civilians. In this case, the deaths of the civilians are weighed against the benefits of killing the insurgents (including the civilians those insurgents are 10Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, ‘Consequentialism’ in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2011, <;.