Title page for ETD etd-41998-18346

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Kilner, Peter
Author's Email Address pkilner@vt.edu
URN etd-41998-18346
Title Soldiers, Self-Defense, and Killing in War
Degree Master of Arts
Department Philosophy
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Miller, Harlan B. Committee Chair
Christman, John P. Committee Member
Croskery, Patrick T. Committee Member
  • pacifism
  • just war
  • military ethics
  • killing
Date of Defense 1998-05-07
Availability unrestricted
Just-Warists and War-Pacifists disagree on whether soldiers are morally justified in killing each other in wartime combat. Many of their respective arguments, and their contradictory conclusions, are based upon principles of self-defense. In this thesis, I examine the role that principles of self-defense play in the arguments surrounding the moral justification of killing in combat. I do so by critiquing both a Just-Warist argument that relies on self-defense (constructed from the works of Michael Walzer and Judith Jarvis Thomson) and a War-Pacifist argument (developed by Richard Norman) that condemns killing in combat based on the moral requirements of self-defense. I demonstrate that both arguments fail due to their mistaken assumptions that soldiers are not morally responsible for their actions. I conclude by arguing that--once soldiers are recognized as morally responsible agents--killing in combat can be morally justified by principles of self-defense.
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