Killing a person is in general among the most seriously wrongful
forms of action, yet most of us accept that it can be permissible
to kill people on a large scale in war. Does morality become more
permissive in a state of war? Jeff McMahan argues that conditions
in war make no difference to what morality permits and the
justifications for killing people are the same in war as they are
in other contexts, such as individual self-defence. This view is
radically at odds with the traditional theory of the just war and
has implications that challenge common sense views. McMahan argues,
for example, that it is wrong to fight in a war that is unjust
because it lacks a just cause.
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