A substantial body of recent work in just war theory claims that the moral considerations that determine whether acts of individual combatants during a war are permissible or wrong are not reflected in the laws of armed conflict (LOAC). I will focus on the two most striking and familiar examples where the LOAC and morality seem to come apart. First, the LOAC are neutral between the just and the unjust side in a war in this sense: they permit the killing of combatants, whether or not those combatants are fighting for a just cause. But, many philosophers claim, whereas it is often permissible to kill combatants who pose lethal threats with an unjust cause, killing those with a just cause is, at least typically, very seriously morally wrong. Second, the LOAC contain a strict and general prohibition on the intentional killing of non-combatants. But, many philosophers claim, some non-combatants on the unjust side of a war are liable to be harmed or killed, and so intentionally killing them is permissible if certain further considerations are satisfied – for example that the killing is necessary to further a just cause and is proportionate. I will argue that in both cases, there is a strong case for the LOAC to be revised to converge more closely on what the morality permits and requires.
Victor Tadros is Professor of Criminal Law and Legal Theory at the University of Warwick. He is the author of Criminal Responsibility (OUP, 2005), The Ends of Harm: The Moral Foundations of Criminal Law (OUP, 2011), and most recently Wrongs and Crimes (OUP, forthcoming). From 2010-13 he held a major AHRC Research Grant, with Antony Duff, Lindsay Farmer, Sandra Marshall and Massimo Renzo, to work on criminalization. He currently holds a three year Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship to work on just war theory entitled "To Do, To Die, To Reason Why."
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