The Moral Status of Combatants: A New Theory of Just War, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Moral Status of Combatants

A New Theory of Just War, 1st Edition

By Michael Skerker


256 pages

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Hardback: 9780367247140
pub: 2020-07-22
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This book develops a new contractualist foundation for just war theory, which defends the traditional view of the moral equality of combatants and associated egalitarian moral norms.

Traditionally it has been viewed that combatants on both sides of a war have the same right to fight, irrespective of the justice of their cause, and both sides must observe the same restrictions on the use of force, especially prohibitions on targeting non-combatants. Revisionist philosophers have argued that combatants on the unjust side of a war have no right to fight; that pro-war civilians on the unjust side might be targetable; and that lawful combatants on the unjust side might in principle be liable to prosecution for their participation on the unjust side. This book seeks to undercut the revisionist project and defend the traditional view of the moral equality of combatants. It does so by showing how revisionist philosophers fail to build a strong foundation for their arguments and misunderstand that there is a moral difference between collective military violence and a collection of individually unjustified violent actions. Finally, the book develops a theory defending the traditional view of military ethics based on a universal duty of all people to support just institutions.

This book will be of much interest to students of just war theory, ethics philosophy, and war studies.

Table of Contents

Part I: Revisionist Just War Theory

1. Introduction: The Challenge of Revisionist Just War Theory

2. Reductive Individualists’ Theories of Liability

Part II: The Foundations of the Moral Equality of Combatants

3. The Culpability Standard of Liability

4. Responsibility, Justification, and Liability in War

Part III: The Moral Equality of Combatants

5. The Foundations of Military Norms

6. Military Norms

7. The Moral Equality of Combatants

About the Author

Michael Skerker is an Associate Professor in the Leadership, Ethics, and Law Department at the U.S. Naval Academy.

About the Series

War, Conflict and Ethics

Ethical judgments are relevant to all phases of protracted violent conflict and inter-state war. Before, during, and after the tumult, martial forces are guided, in part, by their sense of morality for assessing whether an action is (morally) right or wrong, an event has good and/or bad consequences, and an individual (or group) is inherently virtuous or evil. This new book series focuses on the morality of decisions by military and political leaders to engage in violence and the normative underpinnings of military strategy and tactics in the prosecution of the war.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
PHILOSOPHY / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / International Security
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Human Rights