A333 – week 7 – The moral equality of combatants

More war again this week (but no tutorial as the tutor was ill, and no marked TMA either yet though the strike is still ongoing so I won’t get a score anyway). This week was looking at whether combatants in a war are morally equal. The traditional view is that they are, so each set of combatants can try and kill each other pretty much with impunity, but they should try and keep it proportionate and not kill too many civilians. The revisionist view is that just combatants (those fighting for a just cause) can try and kill unjust combatants (those fighting for an unjust cause), but an unjust combatant can never be morally justified in trying to kill anyone, so they are not morally equal.

Lots of paper thin lines drawn between excusability and justifiability, just and unjust, whether combatants can be expected to know whether they are fighting for just or unjust cause, whether a combatant is being aggressive or acting in self-defence, and whether the right to be killed can be given up entirely or temporarily when voluntarily enlisting in an armed force.

A lot of hypotheticals and ignoring that the real world is messy (naively I think that philosophy should be applicable to the real world or it’s all just pontificating).

1 thought on “A333 – week 7 – The moral equality of combatants

  1. Simon Reed

    “A lot of hypotheticals and ignoring that the real world is messy (naively I think that philosophy should be applicable to the real world or it’s all just pontificating).”

    That was the problem I had with A222 Exploring Philosophy. I later discovered that’s because these modules are about philosophology, not philosophy. Apparently most universities no longer teach philosophy but teach philosophology: teaching you how to write about philosophy without teaching how to do philosophy.

    I was very disappointed that the content was not related to the real world, but just spinning around in an artificial thought experiment, quite pointlessly.

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