Journal of Military Ethics 12 (4):357-369 (2013)

Graham Parsons
United States Military Academy
Gregory Reichberg’s argument against my reading of the classical just war theorists falsely assumes that if just cause is unilateral, then there is no moral equality of combatants. This assumption is plausible if we assume an individualist framework. However, the classical theorists accepted quasi-Aristotelian, communitarian social ontologies and theories of justice. For them, the political community is ontologically and morally prior to the private individual. The classical just war theorists build their theories within this framework. They argue that just war is only waged by supra-individual political communities for irreducibly social ends. War by private individuals for private ends is always unjust. The ends sought in just war presuppose the justice of a hierarchy of authority over war such that the soldier is obligated to serve in war upon the command of his legitimate authority. In this way, the classical theorists accept a unilateral theory of just cause and a division of authority over war that entails the possibility of the moral equality of combatants.
Keywords Public War  Moral Equality of Combatants  Just Cause  Augustine  Aquinas  Vitoria  Jeff McMahan  Gregory Reichberg
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DOI 10.1080/15027570.2013.870321
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Killing in War.Jeff McMahan - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
The Morality of War and the Law of War.Jeff McMahan - 2008 - In David Rodin & Henry Shue (eds.), Just and Unjust Warriors: The Moral and Legal Status of Soldiers. Oxford University Press. pp. 19--43.

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