The responsibility of soldiers and the ethics of killing in war

Philosophical Quarterly 57 (229):558–572 (2007)
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Abstract

According to the purist war ethic, the killings committed by soldiers fighting in just wars are permissible, but those committed by unjust combatants are nothing but murders. Jeff McMahan asserts that purism is a direct consequence of the justice-based account of self-defence. I argue that this is incorrect: the justice-based conception entails that in many typical cases, killing unjust combatants is morally unjustified. So real purism is much closer to pacifism than its proponents would like it to be. I conclude that the best explanation of the common view that unjust combatants may be defensively killed relies on a rights-based conception of self-defence

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Citations of this work

The war convention and the moral division of labour.Yitzhak Benbaji - 2009 - Philosophical Quarterly 59 (237):593-617.
Moral sequencing and intervening to prevent harm.Benjamin David Costello - 2019 - Dissertation, University of Birmingham

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References found in this work

Future contingents and relative truth.John MacFarlane - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (212):321–336.
Self-defense.Judith Jarvis Thomson - 1991 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 20 (4):283-310.
The ethics of killing in war.Jeff McMahan - 2004 - Ethics 114 (4):693-733.
Killing the Innocent in Self‐Defense.Michael Otsuka - 1994 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 23 (1):74-94.
The basis of moral liability to defensive killing.Jeff McMahan - 2005 - Philosophical Issues 15 (1):386–405.

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