The Myth of Civilian Immunity — Why There ‘Could’ Be No Such Law —

Abstract. Busting the myth of civilian immunity has long since been standard, albeit unpalatable, philosophical fare. But such myth-busting has invariably appealed to either a) Hobbes’ argument for the incoherence of the very idea of international law, or else b) the Soritean indistinguishability of civilians from combatants. Though either grounds would, in my view, suffice to refute the doctrine of civilian immunity, in this paper I neither defend nor even rehearse either of these standard grounds. Rather I argue that civilian immunity can be shown to be oxymoronic by c) the very logic of war. Of course even my being right about this logic would show only that laws immunizing civilians would be ill advised, whereas what I want to show is that such laws cannot be law. So I am compelled to argue further that by virtue of this logic these ‘laws’ are not in fact law.

Categories: Papers My Wife Said I Should Have Published Long Ago, Social and Political Philosophy

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