Risky Killing and the Ethics of War

Ethics 126 (1):91-117 (2015)
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Abstract

Killing civilians is worse than killing soldiers. Although this principle is widely affirmed, recent military practice and contemporary just war theory have undermined it. This article argues that killing an innocent person is worse the likelier it was, when you acted, that he would be innocent: riskier killings are worse than less risky killings. In war, killing innocent civilians is almost always riskier than killing innocent soldiers. So killing innocent civilians is worse than killing innocent soldiers. Since almost all civilians are innocent in war, and since killing innocent civilians is worse than killing liable soldiers, killing civilians is worse than killing soldiers.

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Seth Lazar
Australian National University

Citations of this work

In dubious battle: uncertainty and the ethics of killing.Seth Lazar - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (4):859-883.
Duty and Doubt.Seth Lazar - 2020 - Journal of Practical Ethics 8 (1):28-55.
War.Brian Orend - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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