Non‐combatant Immunity and the Definition of Non‐innocence and Innocence

Uwe Steinhoff

in On the Ethics of War and Terrorism

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780199217373
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780191712470 | DOI:
Non‐combatant Immunity and the Definition of Non‐innocence and Innocence

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This chapter tackles the question of why soldiers, allegedly, are legitimate targets and civilians not. Four approaches to the explanation of the difference are discussed: the moral guilt theory, the convention theory, the self-defence theory, and the justifying emergency theory. All these approaches have a valid moral principle at heart, but are nevertheless misleading in that they raise their respective principle to the status of the absolute. The chapter outlines how a comparative weighting of the principles can proceed if applied to concrete cases. The resulting approach does not square the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate targets with the distinction between soldiers and civilians; this has extremely important consequences for the conduct of war.

Keywords: civilians; convention; guilt; innocents; jus in bello; justifying emergency; principle of discrimination; self-defence; soldiers

Chapter.  19952 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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