Proportionality decision making in targeting : heuristics, cognitive biases, and the law
Host item entries:
Harvard national security journal, Vol. 7, issue 2, 2016, p. 577-636
Luke A. Whittemore
Proportionality is a core principle of international humanitarian law (IHL), but remains plagued with questions surrounding its application. The principle is susceptible to broad ranges of judgment, and commanders who make proportionality decisions do so under significant uncertainty, subject to a variety of pressures, as well as their own cognitive biases. Such a decision-making environment may result in decisions that deviate from what is expected by rational choice theory. Yet few writers have examined how commanders engage in proportionality analysis as human beings limited by their cognitive capacities, in suboptimal decision-making environments; there are almost no public studies of heuristics, cognitive biases, and IHL principles in targeting decisions. This article explores how heuristics and cognitive biases might affect proportionality analysis, provides an interdisciplinary approach to IHL targeting principles and heuristics programs, and discusses how future research in this area might develop.