Michael Walzer's just war theory: Some issues of responsibility [Book Review]

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 5 (2):221-243 (2002)

Abstract
In his widely influential statement of just war theory, Michael Walzer exempts conscripted soldiers from all responsibility for taking part in war, whether just or unjust (the thesis of the moral equality of soldiers). He endows the overwhelming majority of civilians with almost absolute immunity from military attack on the ground that they aren't responsible for the war their country is waging, whether just or unjust. I argue that Walzer is much too lenient on both soldiers and civilians. Soldiers fighting for a just cause and soldiers fighting for an unjust one are not morally equal. A substantial proportion of civilians in a democracy are responsible, to a significant degree, for their country's unjust war. Moreover, under certain (admittedly rare) circumstances, some of them are legitimate targets of military attack. This has bearing on settling moral accounts in the wake of war and the issue of forgiving the wrongs done in its course: possible candidates for such forgiveness are much more numerous than is usually assumed.
Keywords civilian immunity  conscription  ethics of war  just war theory  soldiers, responsibility of  war
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1023/A:1016032623634
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 46,461
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Remote Weaponry: The Ethical Implications.Suzy Killmister - 2008 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 25 (2):121–133.
Public War and the Moral Equality of Combatants.Graham Parsons - 2012 - Journal of Military Ethics 11 (4):2012.
Varieties of Contingent Pacifism in War.Saba Bazargan-Forward - 2014 - In Helen Frowe & Gerald Lang (eds.), How We Fight. Oxford University Press. pp. 1-17.
Terrorism, War, and The Killing of the Innocent.Troy Jollimore - 2007 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (4):353-372.

View all 8 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

How to Judge Soldiers Whose Cause is Unjust.Judith Lichtenberg - 2008 - In David Rodin & Henry Shue (eds.), Just and Unjust Warriors: The Moral and Legal Status of Soldiers. Oxford University Press. pp. 112--130.
Just and Unjust Killing.Nolen Gertz - 2008 - Journal of Military Ethics 7 (4):247-261.
The Leaders and the Led: Problems of Just War Theory.C. A. J. Coady - 1980 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 23 (3):275 – 291.
Reconnoitering Combatant Moral Equality.Roger Wertheimer - 2007 - Journal of Military Ethics 6 (1):60-74.
Benbaji on Killing in War and 'the War Convention'.Uwe Steinhoff - 2010 - Philosophical Quarterly 60 (240):616-623.
Order and Affray: Defensive Privileges in Warfare.Toby Handfield & Patrick Emerton - 2009 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 37 (4):382 - 414.
Responsibility and Culpability in War.Helene Ingierd & Henrik Syse - 2005 - Journal of Military Ethics 4 (2):85-99.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total views
287 ( #22,891 of 2,286,400 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
8 ( #128,097 of 2,286,400 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature