Seth Lazar
Australian National University
The principle of non-combatant immunity protects non-combatants against intentional attacks in war. It is the most widely endorsed and deeply held moral constraint on the conduct of war. And yet it is difficult to justify. Recent developments in just war theory have undermined the canonical argument in its favour – Michael Walzer's, in Just and Unjust Wars. Some now deny that non-combatant immunity has principled foundations, arguing instead that it is entirely explained by a different principle: that of necessity. In war, as in ordinary life, harms to others can be justified only if they are necessary. Attacking non-combatants, the argument goes, is never necessary, so never justified. Although often repeated, this argument has never been explored in depth. In this article, I evaluate the necessity-based argument for non-combatant immunity, drawing together theoretical analysis and empirical research on anti-civilian tactics in interstate warfare, counterinsurgency, and terrorism.
Keywords Noncombatant immunity  Civilians  War  Necessity  Self-defence
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References found in this work BETA

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Citations of this work BETA

Just War Theory: Revisionists Vs Traditionalists.Seth Lazar - 2017 - Annual Review of Political Science 20:37-54.
The Problem with Killer Robots.Nathan Gabriel Wood - 2020 - Journal of Military Ethics 19 (3):220-240.

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