Endangering Soldiers and the Problem of Private Military Contractors

Authored by: Ned Dobos

Routledge Handbook of Ethics and War

Print publication date:  July  2013
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415539340
eBook ISBN: 9780203107164
Adobe ISBN: 9781136261008


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Soldiers are routinely exposed to risk. Sometimes commanding officers put their rank-and-file troops in danger because this is necessary to achieve military objectives. Sometimes they do it to minimise the chances of unintended civilian harm. We feel that this is perfectly justified. Indeed, according to just war theory, endangering combatants to protect non-combatants is something that the commander is obliged, not merely permitted, to do. We are told that this is consistent with the rights of the soldiers because they have in fact surrendered (or “exchanged”) their rights by enlisting. The consent of the soldier squares his endangerment with his moral status.

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