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Seminars in Moral Philosophy Week 4 MT08

Event Name Seminars in Moral Philosophy Week 4 MT08
Start Date 3rd Nov 2008 4:30pm
End Date 3rd Nov 2008 6:30pm
Duration 2 hours

Steven Lee (Hobart and William Smith Colleges) to be held in the Lecture Room, 10 Merton Street, Oxford - Seminars in Moral Philosophy webpage


This paper addresses the debate over whether the traditional rules of jus in bello, discrimination and proportionality, are mere conventions rather than basic moral principles. (This debate is the subject of a recent collection edited by Henry Shue and David Rodin, Just and Unjust Warriors.) These rules assume the theses of the moral symmetry of combatants and the independence of jus ad bellum and jus in bello. Some critics have argued that these theses are false on the grounds that ordinary morality regards fighting for an unjust cause as impermissible, while the two rules do not. This implies that the rules must be mere conventions. I argue that there are good reasons to regard the critics’ position as implausible, and that warfare should be understood to be a realm morally apart from ordinary life, one to which different moral rules apply. My argument for this last point is aided by an analogy with Rawls’s view that social justice takes a different subject (the basic structure) than do other aspects of morality.

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