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Weighing Lives in War$
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Jens David Ohlin, Larry May, and Claire Finkelstein

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198796176

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198796176.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 20 April 2021

Humanity, Necessity, and the Rights of Soldiers

Humanity, Necessity, and the Rights of Soldiers

Chapter:
(p.77) 3 Humanity, Necessity, and the Rights of Soldiers
Source:
Weighing Lives in War
Author(s):

Larry May

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198796176.003.0004

In both morality and law, it is still common to say that soldiers’ lives do not count for very much in assessments of whether or not a particular war or armed conflict is justifiably initiated and conducted. I argue that soldiers should be acknowledged to have the humanitarian right not to be killed unnecessarily. Also, I argue that military necessity is best conceived as a form of practical necessity. I argue for a strengthening of the principle of military necessity, so that a soldier’s life can only be taken if it is practically necessary to achieve a needed military objective. I then set out a new way to understand humanitarian norms that is in keeping with the idea that the humans who are soldiers should be treated with at least minimal dignity. I support an expanded view of humanitarian rights that takes account of soldiers’ unique vulnerabilities.

Keywords:   humanitarianism, human rights, rights of soldiers, necessity, dignity, vulnerability, civilians

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