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Accountability for KillingMoral Responsibility for Collateral Damage in America's Post-9/11 Wars$
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Neta Crawford

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199981724

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199981724.001.0001

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Moral Grammar and Military Vocabulary

Moral Grammar and Military Vocabulary

(p.37) 1 Moral Grammar and Military Vocabulary
Accountability for Killing

Neta C. Crawford

Oxford University Press

Clarifies the concepts of collateral damage and moral responsibility, as well as terms such as combatant, noncombatant, and civilian as they are used in international law and ethics. Other terms, such as force protection and risk transfer are also key. Sustained attention to the terms is necessary because the fact of repeated incidents of unintended harm or killing of civilians is not simple. Collateral damage is legal and regrettable at the same time. Moral responsibility includes the primary responsibility to reduce the likelihood of collateral damage and the secondary responsibility to act to reduce collateral damage in case those with primary responsibility fail to do so. The underlying moral grammar — the structure of moral reasoning — is partially revealed by attention to the vocabulary.

Keywords:   combatant, noncombatant, collateral damage, international law, force protection, risk transfer

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