Law and Philosophy

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 289–312 | Cite as

The Moral Distinction Between Combatants and Noncombatants: Vulnerable and Defenceless

  • Victor TadrosEmail author
Open Access


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.

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© The Author(s) 2018

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of LawUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK

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