Reconnoitering Combatant Moral Equality

Journal of Military Ethics 6 (1):60-74 (2007)
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Contra Michael Walzer and Jeff McMahan, neither classical just war theory nor the contemporary rules of war require or support any notion of combatant moral equality. Nations rightly accept prohibitions against punishing enemy combatants without recognizing any legal or moral right of aggressors to kill. The notion of combatant moral equality has real import only in our interpersonal -- and intrapersonal -- attitudes, since the notion effectively preempts any ground for conscientious objection. Walzer is criticized for over-emphasizing our collective responses to war conduct and slighting our personal, extra-political responses.

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Roger Wertheimer
Agnes Scott College


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