My work on private military and security companies explores the ethical issues raised by private force. These include whether they can be used justifiably in certain cases, whether private military force and mercenarism are inherently wrong, and the implications for Just War Theory. Much of this work arose from an ESRC grant (RES-000-22-4042).
James Pattison (2014) The Morality of Private War: The Challenge of Private Military and Security Companies (Oxford: Oxford University Press). - Reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement, Political Studies Review, African Security Review, St. Anthony's International Review, Parameters, Socialism and Democracy, and International Affairs. - Abstract: The increased use of private military and security companies (PMSCs) is often said to be one of the most significant changes to the military in recent times. The Morality of Private War: The Challenge of Private Military and Security Companies provides a detailed assessment of the moral arguments for and against the use of PMSCs. In doing so, it considers objections to private force at the employee, employer, and international levels. For instance, does the potential for private contractors to possess mercenary motives affect whether they can use military force? Does a state abdicate an essential responsibility when it employs PMSCs? Is the use of PMSCs morally preferable to the alternatives, such as an all-volunteer force and a conscripted army? What are the effects of treating military services as a commodity for the governing rules of the international system? Overall, The Morality of Private War argues that private military force leads to not only contingent moral problems stemming from the lack of effective regulation, but also several deeper, more fundamental problems that mean that public force should be preferred. Nevertheless, it also argues that, despite these problems, PMSCs can sometimes (although rarely) be morally permissibly used. Ultimately, The Morality of Private War argues that the challenges posed by the use of PMSCs mean that we need to reconsider how military force ought to be organized and to reform our thinking about the ethics of war and, in particular, Just War Theory.
James Pattison (2013) "When Is It Right to Fight? Just War Theory and the Individual-Centric Approach", Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 16/1: 35-54. Abstract: Recent work in the ethics of war has done much to challenge the collectivism of the convention-based, Walzerian just war theory. In doing so, it raises the question of when it is permissible for soldiers to resort to force. This article considers this issue and, in doing so, argues that the rejection of collectivism in just war should go further still. More specifically, it defends the ‘Individual-Centric Approach’ to the deep morality of war, which asserts that the justifiability of an individual’s contribution to the war, rather than the justifiability of the war more generally, determines the moral acceptability of their participation. It then goes on to present five implications of the Individual-Centric Approach, including for individual liability to attack in war.
Deane-Peter Baker and James Pattison (2012) "The Principled Case for Employing Private Military and Security Companies in Interventions for Human Rights Purposes", Journal of Applied Philosophy, 29/1: 1–18. - Abstract: The possibility of using private military and security company es to bolster the capacity to undertake intervention for human rights purposes (humanitarian intervention and peacekeeping) has been increasingly debated. The focus of such discussions has, however, largely been on practical issues and the contingent problems posed by private force. By contrast, this article considers the principled case for privatising humanitarian intervention. It focuses on two central issues. First, does outsourcing humanitarian intervention to private military and security companies pose some fundamental, deeper problems in this context, such as an abdication of a state's duties? Second, on the other hand, is there a case for preferring these firms to other, state-based agents of humanitarian intervention? For instance, given a state's duties to their own military personnel, should the use of private military and security contractors be preferred to regular soldiers for humanitarian intervention?
James Pattison (2012) "The Legitimacy of the Military, Private Military and Security Companies, and Just War Theory", European Journal of Political Theory, 11/2: 131–54. - Abstract: The legitimacy of the military is frequently overlooked in standard accounts of jus ad bellum. Accordingly, this paper considers how the military should be organized. It proposes a normative conception of legitimacy – the ‘Moderate Instrumentalist Approach’ – that outlines the qualities that a military should possess. It then assesses the three leading ways of organizing the military according to this approach: the use of private military and security companies (PMSCs), a conscripted force and the all-volunteer force (AVF). The paper argues that the AVF, despite some notable problems, is the most legitimate way of organizing the military.
James Pattison (2010) "Deeper Objections to the Privatisation of Military Force",Journal of Political Philosophy, 18/4: 425–47. This article is also available from the copyright holder here. - Abstract: The rapid growth of the private military industry since the end of the Cold War has led to a range of reactions. Some perceive private military and security companies (PMSCs) to be vital actors in the promotion of both states’ interests and humanitarianism worldwide. Others regard PMSCs as tools of western imperialism that herald a return to a pre-Westphalian international system dominated by powerful commercial interests. Although the potential benefits and disadvantages of using PMSCs are often discussed, the moral considerations are rarely fully elaborated, and the focus has largely been on the contingent problems with PMSCs. Accordingly, this article considers some of the deeper objections to the use of private force. The first section focuses on whether it is permissible for an individual to be employed as a private contractor. In the second section, I assess whether it is morally acceptable to employ private contractors. The final section considers the moral justifiability of the private military industry more generally, including whether private force should be entrusted to the market.
James Pattison (2010) "Outsourcing the Responsibility to Protect: Humanitarian Intervention and Private Military and Security Companies" International Theory, 2/1: 1–31. This article is also available from the copyright holder here. - Abstract: States have recently agreed that there is a responsibility to protect populations threatened by genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. The international community, however, often lacks the resources and willingness to carry out a key part of this responsibility, that is, to undertake humanitarian intervention effectively when required. One potential solution to this problem is to outsource intervention to private military and security companies. In this article, I consider this option. In particular, I present a largely consequentialist argument which asserts that, when two conditions are met, using these companies to bolster the capacity to undertake humanitarian intervention might be morally justifiable overall.
James Pattison (2008) "Just War Theory and the Privatization of Military Force",Ethics & International Affairs, 22/2: 143–62. This article is also available from the copyright holder here. - Abstract: The use of private military companies (PMCs) has become increasingly prevalent, with such firms as Blackwater, MPRI, and DynCorp taking over a growing number of roles traditionally performed by the regular military. This article uses the framework of just war theory (JWT) to consider the central normative issues raised by this privatization of military force. In particular, I first examine the claim that private contractors are inappropriate actors to wage war because they contravene the JWT principle of right intention. The next section asserts that the use of PMCs is largely consistent with the application of the principle of legitimate authority but undermines two of its central rationales. In the third section, I apply the jus in bello principle of discrimination to PMC personnel. Overall, I argue that JWT needs to be updated and extended to respond to the issues raised by the privatization of military force.