The Ethics of Killing in War

Philosophia 34 (1):23-41 (2006)
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Abstract

This paper argues that certain central tenets of the traditional theory of the just war cannot be correct. It then advances an alternative account grounded in the same considerations of justice that govern self-defense at the individual level. The implications of this account are unorthodox. It implies that, with few exceptions, combatants who fight for an unjust cause act impermissibly when they attack enemy combatants, and that combatants who fight in a just war may, in certain circumstances, legitimately target noncombatants who bear a significant degree of moral responsibility for a wrong, when the prevention or rectification of that wrong constitutes a just cause for war.

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Jeff McMahan
Oxford University

Citations of this work

The responsibility dilemma for killing in war: A review essay.Seth Lazar - 2010 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 38 (2):180-213.
Associative Duties and the Ethics of Killing in War.Seth Lazar - 2013 - Journal of Practical Ethics 1 (1):3-48.
Rights, Liability, and the Moral Equality of Combatants.Uwe Steinhoff - 2012 - The Journal of Ethics 16 (4):339-366.
How Outlandish Can Imaginary Cases Be?Jakob Elster - 2011 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 28 (3):241-258.

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References found in this work

War and Self Defense.David Rodin - 2002 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
War and Self Defense.David Rodin - 2002 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.
Killing the Innocent in Self‐Defense.Michael Otsuka - 1994 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 23 (1):74-94.
Innocence, Self‐Defense and Killing in War.Jeff McMahan - 1994 - Journal of Political Philosophy 2 (3):193-221.

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