Noncombatant immunity
in The ethics of war
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The moral reasoning associated with the principle of civilian or, more exactly, noncombatant immunity is one of the most strongly contested areas of just war theory. Given the moral weight attached to noncombatant immunity by just war theory, the military objective being sought would need to be of very considerable importance in order to establish even a prima facie case for proceeding with the action. If moderate forms of consequentialism threaten the principle of noncombatant immunity, more extreme or purer forms clearly undermine it. The principle of noncombatant immunity is not some abstract and a priori moral norm devised by moral theorists in the teeth of moral experience. By keeping firmly in view those aspects of moral practice that a consequentialist view deliberately ignores the principle of double effect lends essential support to the fundamental moral norm of noncombatant immunity.

The ethics of war

Second edition

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