Noncombatant Immunity and War-Profiteering
In Oxford Handbook on the Ethics of War, Eds. Helen Frowe, Seth Lazar. Oxford University Press 2017.
34 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2017
Date Written: February 2017
The principle of noncombatant immunity prohibits warring parties from intentionally targeting noncombatants. I explicate the moral version of this view and its criticisms by reductive individualists; they argue that certain civilians on the unjust side are morally liable to be lethally targeted to forestall substantial contributions to that war. I then argue that reductivists are mistaken in thinking that causally contributing to an unjust war is a necessary condition for moral liability. Certain noncontributing civilians—notably, war-profiteers—can be morally liable to be lethally targeted. Thus, the principle of noncombatant immunity is mistaken as a moral (though not necessarily as a legal) doctrine, not just because some civilians contribute substantially, but because some unjustly enriched civilians culpably fail to discharge their restitutionary duties to those whose victimization made the unjust enrichment possible. Consequently, the moral criterion for lethal liability in war is even broader than reductive individualists have argued.
Keywords: non-combatant immunity, war-profiteers, unjust enrichment, compensation, restitution, just war theory, combatants, civilians
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