War, Reciprocity and the Moral Equality of Combatants

Seumas Miller*

*Corresponding author for this work

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In this article I address differences between myself and Uwe Steinhoff in relation to the moral principle of reciprocity and its implications for the doctrine of the moral equality of combatants. Whereas I agree with Steinhoff that there is a principle of reciprocity in play in war, contra Steinhoff, I suggest that this principle and, indeed, moral principles of reciprocity more generally, are particularist principles, although if conventionalised or given legal status they can assume a generalised form. Moreover, I also hold that there is a moral difference between those fighting a just war and those fighting an unjust war and this difference, taken in conjunction with the moral equality of combatants doctrine, generates a degree of moral complexity that seems to have gone unrecognised by Steinhoff (and, for that matter, by the two dominant schools of thought in this area, revisionists and Walzerians).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalPhilosophia (United States)
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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