Michael Walzer Moral Principles Of Equality Analysis

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Michael Walzer’s Moral Principle of Equality
Traditional Just War Theory (JWT) contains at its core a principle Walzer calls the moral equality of combatants. According to this principle, combatants on various sides of a war possess the same right to kill, regardless of the justice of the cause for which they are fighting. Walzer’s argument is roughly that a modern day solider, whether for a just case or not, does not freely choose to fight. One is conscripted into service, or volunteers under strong social pressure of patriotism or felt moral obligation. In addition, a soldier fighting in modern wars is told by standard that the war that the soldier’s country is embarking is just. Even if this is not so, the individual soldier
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Combatants occupy symmetrical positions relative to one another: they do not face each other as individuals acting on their own beliefs, but as representatives of their respective countries. Within that role, combatants face one another as reciprocal bearers of risk. Whether they are German combatants carrying out a policy of territorial expansion, or French, British, or American soldiers defending against wrongful aggression, they enjoy equal and identical positions. This is why, as Walzer suggests, it is crucial to distinguish a combatant fighting an unjust cause from a criminal, whose wrongful acts of aggression are his own. In the case of a soldier fighting an unjust war, it is not his decision to kill that is wrongful. That decision is made by the leaders of the country he defends. The combatant’s decision is whether to follow orders or reject the orders he has been given. Disobeying orders, however, is a desperate measure, one he would only undertake under the most extreme circumstances and with the clearest awareness of the illegality of those orders. The soldier, in short, is expected to select his actions not on the basis of his own direct reflection about what would be best to do, but on the basis of someone else’s decision about what to do. Since soldiers on …show more content…
The principle of proportionality maintains that the pursuit of a justified aim in war is constrained by a limit on the means one can adopt to pursue that aim. A means that is disproportionate to the aim is objectionable precisely because there are independent objections to the act that do not relate to the value of the military aim. These objections function as side constraints on the pursuit of the military aim. Proportionality is a principle, then, that relates jus in bello principles to jus ad bellum assessments. Without an independent jus in bello, there would be no such thing as the principle of

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