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On the Ethics of War and Terrorism$
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Uwe Steinhoff

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199217373

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199217373.001.0001

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Non‐combatant Immunity and the Definition of Non‐innocence and Innocence

Non‐combatant Immunity and the Definition of Non‐innocence and Innocence

(p.61) 4 Non‐combatant Immunity and the Definition of Non‐innocence and Innocence
On the Ethics of War and Terrorism

Uwe Steinhoff (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter tackles the question of why soldiers, allegedly, are legitimate targets and civilians not. Four approaches to the explanation of the difference are discussed: the moral guilt theory, the convention theory, the self-defence theory, and the justifying emergency theory. All these approaches have a valid moral principle at heart, but are nevertheless misleading in that they raise their respective principle to the status of the absolute. The chapter outlines how a comparative weighting of the principles can proceed if applied to concrete cases. The resulting approach does not square the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate targets with the distinction between soldiers and civilians; this has extremely important consequences for the conduct of war.

Keywords:   civilians, convention, guilt, innocents, jus in bello, justifying emergency, principle of discrimination, self-defence, soldiers

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