The Innocent in the Just War Thinking of Vitoria and Suárez: A Challenge Even for Secular Just War Theorists and International Law

Ratio Juris 26 (1):47-64 (2013)
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Vitoria and Suárez defend the categorical immunity of the innocent not to be intentionally killed. But they allow for inflicting collective punishment on the innocent and the noninnocent alike during and after a just war. So they allow for deliberately harming them. Inflicting harm on the innocent can often result in their death. Hence, holding both claims seems incoherent. First, the objections against using the term “innocent” are explained. Second, their views on just war are explored. And third, by appealing to Aquinas' double-effect reasoning, it is shown how they try to avoid the above-mentioned incoherence. Still, their appeal might be insufficient to palliate the tension between the above-mentioned claims. If just wars are possible, the deliberate harming of the innocent is reasonably unavoidable for defeating and punishing those who wage them. Hence, defenders of just wars, whether from a religious or a secular perspective, must live with such a tension

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Vicente Medina
Seton Hall University


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