The Condemnation-Absolution Syndrome: Issues of Validity and Generality

Ethics and International Affairs 33 (4):465-471 (2019)

Abstract

In their article “Just War and Unjust Soldiers: American Public Opinion on the Moral Equality of Combatants,” Scott Sagan and Benjamin Valentino argue that the American public evaluates soldiers’ wartime actions more according to whether the war they are fighting was initiated justly, than on their actions during warfare. In this respect, their views are more similar to those of revisionist philosophers than to those of traditional just war theorists. Before leaping to broad conclusions from their survey, it should be replicated. If the findings hold in the replication, intriguing questions could be asked about comparative cross-national attitudes and about the relationship between democracy and war.

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