The text deals with the concept of the supreme emergency which is one of the most interesting and provocative problems of the theory of just and unjust wars. In the first part an attempt is made to shed light on the status of the concept of the supreme emergency in terms of the standard theory of just war. Then a reconstruction of the key arguments of the concept of the supreme emergency is undertaken according to the conception of M. Walzer. This reconstruction should enable us to understand what the state of supreme emergency actually means, and at the same time to shed light on the background of normative dilemmas which political leaders confront in this situation. In the second part Walzer’s conception of the concept of “dirty hands” is discussed, a conception which offers several possible interpretations of these normative dilemmas. In the third part the author first recapitulates the results of the foregoing discussions in the framework of the standard theory of just war, and he then shows that in contemporary times there exist three basic ways of evaluating the legitimacy of treating intentional threatening behaviour or the murder of innocent civilians as supreme emergency. In the final part an attempt is made to show that morally and legally unjustifiable murder can be only excused in certain exceptional cirmcumstances. This excusing can, however, be justified only on the assumption that, in the framework of the concept of the supreme emergency, a connection is possible between the concept of dirty hands and the concept of civil obedience against the background of some conception of global justice, global consitutionalism and global governance.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.