Noncombatant Immunity in Michael Walzer's Just and Unjust Wars [Abstract]

Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 11 (1997)

December 4, 1997

Issues of immunity from attack and the assignment of responsibility for civilian deaths are central to the modern war convention. Koontz addresses several difficulties with Walzer's treatment of noncombatant immunity in Just and Unjust Wars. Walzer's theory of noncombatant immunity states that immunity from attack is a fundamental human right that can only be lost once a person becomes a direct threat or consents to give up his or her right to immunity. Koontz cites inconsistencies in Walzer's method of determining the immunity of soldiers and civilians. He argues from a deontological perspective that there can be no grounds for consent to the loss of immunity other than a direct threat posed by a civilian. This strengthens the protection of noncombatants, a principle that had been weakened by Walzer.


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