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Protection of Civilians$
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Haidi Willmot, Ralph Mamiya, Scott Sheeran, and Marc Weller

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198729266

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198729266.001.0001

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Civilians, Distinction, and the Compassionate View of War

Civilians, Distinction, and the Compassionate View of War

(p.11) 1 Civilians, Distinction, and the Compassionate View of War
Protection of Civilians

Hugo Slim

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the ethical background of the compassionate view of war as it is epitomized in the ‘doctrine of civilians’ that has emerged in modern times, and the distinction between those who fight and those who do not. It explores the two traditions of ruthless and limited war and the strong rhetorical and operational emergence of compassion and restraint in international society in modern history. It also considers the victimhood and agency that characterizes the civilian experience of war to see how this can cause ethical and legal ambiguity that rightly queries a simplistic notion of distinction, going on to examine why most war ideologues still opt for a more ruthless form of violence than the espoused norm, and how that poses ethical and legal problems for the wider project of restraint. Finally, it argues for continued normative and legal consolidation around the ethics of compassionate war.

Keywords:   protection of civilians, ethics, compassionate view of war, doctrine of civilians, victimhood, war ideologues, humanitarian law

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