Terrorism, war, and the killing of the innocent

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (4):353 - 372 (2007)
Commonsense moral thought holds that what makes terrorism particularly abhorrent is the fact that it tends to be directed toward innocent victims. Yet contemporary philosophers tend to doubt that the concept of innocence plays any significant role here, and to deny that prohibitions against targeting noncombatants can be justified through appeal to their moral innocence. I argue, however, that the arguments used to support these doubts are ultimately unsuccessful. Indeed, the philosophical positions in question tend to misunderstand the justification of both the prohibition against targeting noncombatants, and that of the permission to attack combatants, for which the paper offers a new account. Such misunderstandings make it all too easy to justify both terrorist actions and morally objectionable actions on the part of nations at war. Taking proper account of the role of innocence in the context of armed conflict will alter our ordinary ways of thinking about the ethics of war, with respect to both jus in bello and jus ad bellum.
Keywords collective responsibility  Fullinwider, Robert  individualism  innocence  Mavrodes, George  noncombatant immunity  proportionality  Primoratz, Igor  responsibility  terrorism  war
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References found in this work BETA
Thomas Hurka (2005). Proportionality in the Morality of War. Philosophy and Public Affairs 33 (1):34–66.
John M. Taurek (1977). Should the Numbers Count? Philosophy and Public Affairs 6 (4):293-316.

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