Journal of Military Ethics 19 (1):40-55 (2020)

Daniel Alejandro Restrepo
The New School (PhD)
Though it is legally permissible to kill combatants in war,unless they are rendered hors de combat,the existence of Naked Soldiers raises an important moral question: should combatants kill vulnerable enemy combatants or show mercy towards them? Most philosophers who address this question argue that it is morally permissible to kill the Naked Soldier given the extended notion of self-defense during war. They ground their arguments in a form of collectivism. In this essay, I use Larry May’s argument. He offers an approach that extends the principle of discrimination that would also apply to combatants. Instead of assuming all combatants are de facto dangerous,this approach would allow for nuance in targeting the enemy and showing mercy when enemy combatants clearly pose no danger, in other words, when they are Naked Soldiers. I defend this view against two criticisms: Noam Zohar’s view of armies as complex collectives and Stephen Deakin’s view that a policy that spares Naked Soldiers would be open to abuse. I argue that it is not only morally suspect to kill Naked Soldiers, but also it is within the spirit of both international laws governing war and the just war tradition to offer mercy whenever possible.
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DOI 10.1080/15027570.2020.1738981
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References found in this work BETA

War as Self-Defense.Jeff McMahan - 2004 - Ethics and International Affairs 18 (1):75-80.
Just and Unjust Wars.M. Walzer - 1979 - Philosophy 54 (209):415-420.
The Principle of Distinction.Asa Kasher - 2007 - Journal of Military Ethics 6 (2):152-167.

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