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"Hands up Who Wants to Die?": Primoratz on Responsibility and Civilian Immunity in Wartime

Robert Sparrow
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice
Vol. 8, No. 3 (Jun., 2005), pp. 299-319
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27504355
Page Count: 21
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"Hands up Who Wants to Die?": Primoratz on Responsibility and Civilian Immunity in Wartime
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Abstract

The question of the morality of war is something of an embarrassment to liberal political thinkers. A philosophical tradition which aspires to found its preferred institutions in respect for individual autonomy, contract, and voluntary association, is naturally confronted by a phenomenon that is almost exclusively explained and justified in the language of States, force and territory. But the apparent difficulties involved in providing a convincing account of nature and ethics of war in terms of relations between individuals has not prevented liberal theorists from attempting this task. This paper examines a recent attempt by Igor Primoratz to sketch out the implications of a consistent liberalism for just war doctrine and, in particular, as regards the question of who may be a legitimate target of attack in wartime. Primoratz's paper itself is a critique of Michael Waltzer's authoritative exposition of just war theory for failing to be sufficiently and consistently liberal. The debate between these two authors is a productive site for investigating the potential and limitations of liberal theories of just war.

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