2017 Student Research Conference:
30th Annual Student Research Conference

Combatant Inequality: A Jus ad Bellum Response


Luke Matthews
Dr. Mark Appold, Faculty Mentor

How can killing in war be justified if a soldier is not fighting for a just cause? This is the basic premise of the combatant inequality problem in just war theory. In this essay I will examine two modern criticisms of just war theory which posit this problem. I will argue that the claims set forth in these texts rely on an overly weak interpretation of one criterion of jus ad bellum: just authority. I will show that the authority which a state has to protect the commonweal of its citizens includes the right to defend itself and enlist soldiers, who in turn voluntarily rescind their right to life in wartime scenarios, as well as their right to moral self-determination in deciding whether to go to war. I will thus demonstrate that the relationship established between state and soldier is sufficient to refute the difficulties of the combatant inequality problem.

Keywords: just war theory, combatant inequality

Topic(s):Philosophy & Religion

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 310-5
Location: VH 1224
Time: 2:00

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