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This paper compares two approaches to the moral justifications for killing in war: the forfeiture approach, which sees killing as justified when the victim has forfeited…
This paper compares two approaches to the moral justifications for killing in war: the forfeiture approach, which sees killing as justified when the victim has forfeited his or her right not to be killed, and the double-effect approach, which argues that even if intentional killing is absolutely prohibited, that killing can still be morally acceptable under certain conditions, most notably if it is not the intended, desired outcome of a person’s chosen action. The double-effect approach is considered out of fashion in contemporary military ethical literate. I argue that it warrants equal attention as an internally viable and coherent account of the morality of killing, and is preferable in at least one way: that it protects combatants from being necessarily culpable of killing merely by serving in active combat positions.
By defending an alternate framework to the forfeiture approach to killing which is most popular in today’s military ethical literature, I provide an opportunity for new and increased philosophical reflection and discourse on the ethics of killing, as well as new opportunity for defenders of double-effect to make a substantive contribution to the field. This paper demonstrates the internal consistency of arguments that seek to utilise DDE, including its relevance to individual self-defence and individual killing in war.
The images of soldiers which are evoked on memorial days commonly include a number of different virtues: courage, loyalty, fraternity, etc. One ideal perhaps extolled…
The images of soldiers which are evoked on memorial days commonly include a number of different virtues: courage, loyalty, fraternity, etc. One ideal perhaps extolled above all others is that of sacrifice. Soldiers, according to popular moral platitudes, are lauded for the sacrifices they make for the common good. Implied in this is the expectation that soldiers ought to be the type of people who are prepared to sacrifice themselves in defence of an ideal. Within the most popular framework for morally evaluating war, Just War Theory, sacrifice tends to be understood from within the deontological, rights-based framework that modern just war theorists favour. In this chapter I will aim to show how the conclusions drawn by considering sacrifice through a deontological lens can be enriched through the addition of virtue theoretical considerations, leading to a fuller account of sacrifice.
This chapter takes a philosophical approach to the idea of sacrifice in the military. It explores whether the predominant framework used for evaluating war, Just War Theory, is a suitable framework for understanding the sacrifices soldiers, commanders, and political leaders can be asked to make in times of war. Focussing on various conceptions of sacrifice, including physical and moral sacrifices, the chapter argues that the predominantly deontological formulation of modern just war theories could be enriched by considering notions surrounding the ancient Greek concept of arete (virtue). Thus, as well as being a detailed exposition of sacrifice in war, the chapter also seeks to show how consideration of aretaic notions such as virtue, character and moral psychology can enrich just war theories responses to various issues.
The value of this research is in suggesting that soldiers are morally obligated to accept more risk than modern warfare typically places, or at least historically has placed, on them. It also has implications for military ethics education in that it suggests that soldiers’ characters should be shaped in such a way as to dispose them to sacrifice. Further, it has implications for the use of Just War Theory in international relations by introducing a moral framework through which political leaders can determine when they might be morally obligated to forgive the indiscretions of another nation, and what it means to forgive in this context. As such, it makes a contribution to a growing discussion within Just War Theory: jus post bellum – the moral norms surrounding the resolution of conflict.