To Be Killed or Not to Be Killed? On McMahan’s Failure to Draw a Line between Combatants and Civilians

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Abstract
In a recent paper, McMahan argues that his ‘Responsibility Account’, according to which ‘the criterion of liability to attack in war is moral responsibility for an objectively unjustified threat of harm’, can meet the challenge of explaining why most combatants on the unjustified side of a war are liable to attack while most civilians (even on the unjustified side) are not. It should be added, however, that in the light of his rejection of the ‘moral equality of combatants’, McMahan would also have to explain why combatants on the justified side of a war are not liable to attack. I will argue here that McMahan does not succeed in meeting these challenges.
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Archival date: 2015-11-21
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