The leaders and the led: Problems of just war theory

Inquiry 23 (3):275 – 291 (1980)
Any attempt to justify war in the fashion of just war theories risks underestimating its morally problematic nature. This becomes clear if we ask how the individual soldier or citizen is supposed to use just war theory in his own thinking. Michael Walzer's recent book, Just and Unjust Wars, illustrates the problem nicely. Walzer's view is that whether a state is justified in going to war is not a matter for the citizen to judge, and with regard to the way the war is conducted the individual soldier can have only minimal moral responsibility for what is done. Walzer's position is criticized in detail and the conclusion drawn that such an understanding of just war theory undermines the theory's significance as a moral outlook on war. It is also argued that a more pertinent version of just war theory must have strong implications for social change
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