In Sparing Civilians, Seth Lazar claims that in war, with rare exceptions, killing noncombatants is worse than killing combatants. This paper raises some doubts about whether this is an important principle – at least, once we understand Lazar’s clarifications. It also suggests that however it is clarified, it seems false. And it suggests a related principle that more plausible. This related principle applies only to those with just aims, and it applies only to intentional killing rather than to all forms of killing.
I am grateful to participants at the Carnegie Conference on books by Seth Lazar and Helen Frowe. I am especially grateful to Seth, whose response helped me to improve this paper, and to Helen Frowe for comments on a later draft. I am also grateful to the Leverhulme Trust for a Major Research Fellowship which allowed me the time to work on it.
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Tadros, V. The Moral Distinction Between Combatants and Noncombatants: Vulnerable and Defenceless. Law and Philos 37, 289–312 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10982-018-9327-7