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Response to Walzer

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Philosophy 2083F/G
Frank Cameron

LIABILITY AND COLLECTIVE IDENTITY: A RESPONSE TO WALZER – MCMAHAN  A major reservation about its arguments – I think that just war is police action of a sort while unjust war is criminal action of a sort  My most serious concern about Walzers argument derives from his failure consistently to adhere to the rejection of group membership as a basis of liability to attack  He concedes that not all soldiers are combatants  None of them entails that, in time of war, he makes a material contribution to the war  A military lawyer who, acting in fidelity to her understanding of the military’s own guiding principles, seeks to revise the rules of engagement in a way that would hamper the effectiveness of military action in this instance  That if all soldiers are liable to attack, their liability must be a matter of their membership in the military rather than a matter of what they are doing  Military as accountants, lawyers, and physicians who deal with local tasks of no consequence to the war  We can send a team of commandos into their building to kill them in their sleep in the hope of terrorizing the active soldiers at the base – on my view it would not be  Collectively liable – highlighting these characteristics does nothing to show that civilians cannot be individually liable because of their contributions to the prosecution of a war  That civilians may be individually liable- thought not usually to military attack – not only if I they materially contribute to the fighting of an unjust war but also if they are morally responsible for the initiation
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