PHL378: War & Morality
LEC17 – Discrimination
Nov, 5th, 2009
Traditional View (Waltzer)
1. moral equality of soldiers, soldiers just and unjust side are both morally permitted to kill each
2. all legitimate targets are equally permissible targets no differences in degree of liability
3. no civilians are permitted
1. only soldiers on just side are permitted to kill soldiers on the other side, the unjust side may be
excused but not permitted
! ex. of inidividual self defence, you cannot use you initiation of aggression as a justification
of self defence if the other party retaliates
! soldiers are liable if they are freely performing actions that contribute to an unjust threat
! ie. hunting case and twin
2. Moral responsibility comes in degrees, voluntary vs. conscript. Hence, you should fight
veterans rather than conscripts even if you have more risk. When you fight conscript, you have
to restrained tactics, where as if you fought veterans you do not have to restrain.
! Waltzer responds by using a pragmatic example – how can McMann tell the soldiers to fight
the harder veterans when they can win the war by fighting the conscripts.
3. Some civilians can be liable to be killed because they can be responsible for the unjust threat.
! ex. initiator & battery and implacable pursuers
! sometimes it is more preferable to kill civilians than soldiers
! non-combatants are morally liable, but armies should not attack civilians because you cannot
tell who is responsible or not. Hence practically there is no significant to his rejection of 3.
Similar to his earlier argument against preventive war (you can never know about another
! there is also no practical restriction of his other ideas because, it has negative consequences if
they were carried out. Fighting the war until the bitter end, because the unjust side think they
may be held responsible for their kills, and the carrying out of the rules by the just side can also
be bad, because they kill wantonly and justify it by saying ppl. are responsible.
! Waltzer: the law of war should be based on the deep morality of war
! McMann: there is the deep morality of war, and then there is the conventions of war which are
chosen to impose restriction on bad consequences. there may be times when they do not match
! defence of 1. in traditional view
! material non-innocence is central in Waltzer's view, ie. soldiers are materially non-innocent
(threat) to each other in war
! McMann's objection is pretty valid
! only way you can lose right is by forfeiture by doing something wrong
! but we could also lose rights by voluntarily surrendering rights – ie. making promise
! Ie. if I promise to have lunch with you tomorrow, then I voluntarily surrender my right to
choose what to have for lunch