De onschuld voorbij: Jeff McMahans Killing in War [Book Review]


Authors
Thomas Mertens
Radboud University Nijmegen
Abstract
Jeff McMahan, one of the leading contemporary writers on ‘just war thinking’, argues in the book under review, Killing in War, that one of the central tenets of the ‘ius in bello’, namely the moral equality of combatants, is both conceptually and morally untenable. This results from a reflection upon and a departure from two basic assumptions in Walzer’s work, namely the idea that war itself isn’t a relation between persons, but between political entities and their human instruments and the idea that the ‘ius ad bellum’ and ‘ius in bello’ are and should be kept distinct. This book merits serious reflection. However, the disadvantages of McMahan’s position are obvious. If the rights of combatants during war depend on the justice of their cause, the immunity of the civilians on the side of the supposed ‘unjust’ enemy is seriously endangered
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