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Cecile Fabre
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1.1 (Ced) So much, for now, on causal responsibility. With regard to moral responsibility, Jeff argues that unjust combatants and unjust non-combatants can hardly ever plead (ex post) unavoidable ignorance of the moral status of the threat to which they are contributing. At the very least, he writes, they ‘can surely know that there’s a significant risk that the threat they pose is unjust, and that alone seems a sufficient basis for the attribution to them of some responsibility for the wrongful harms they cause.’ Now, I try to address this objection on p. 59, and offer a reply at the top of p. 60, as pertains to the case of civilians. There, I do not deny that the latter bear some degree of responsibility and culpability for the unjust threats which they enable (though reading that para again I can see why one might think that I do deny that.) But the point at issue at this juncture of the paper is the different one of whether they are liable to attack (notwithstanding their responsibility.) Having said that, readers will have noticed of course that I simply assert, and do not provide an argument for, the claim that civilians are not liable even if they are aware of running a risk of contributing to unjust threats. (See the (long) sentence at the conclusion of the first para on p. 60.) That’s because I have no considered argument for it - just an unshakable intuition. And I think that it would have been entirely fair of Jeff to point out, here, that an argument is needed. Accordingly: any suggestions more than welcome!
C. Fabre. Reply to Peasoup comments made between Jan 11 and Jan 13 2010-01-14 First of all, let me thank the editors of Peasoup for selecting the article: it is an honour for me to help start what promises to be a fruitful and stimulating collaborative enterprise between the blog and Ethics. I am also deeply grateful to Jeff, and to those of you who have posted a blog entry on the paper here, for such constructive and thought-provoking comments. The latter, taken together, currently run at 20 pages of single-spaced text (!), which is above and beyond what I could have expected. In this and the next two or three posts, I make some points about Jeff’s critical introduction and comments made by others which directly touch on the issues which Jeff raises. My points divide into responses to specific comments, and programmatic thoughts as to where more work is required. I will move on to other issues (esp. discussions of functionalist arguments) in a separate entry later today or tomorrow. I will try to address all the issues raised in the posts so far, but apologise in advance if I miss some of your points. Finally, the posts will be rather long, so I refer to respondents by name specifically throughout, in case you are interested in responses I have to your own specific points and want to do a name-search. 1. Specific points on Jeff’s reply 1.1. Clearing up some misunderstanding Jeff brings out, more clearly and sharply than I did, the implications of my argument for the relative merits, and demerit, of the orthodox and neo-classical accounts of liability to intentional attack (incidentally I agree with his observation that the label ‘neo-classical account’ is less confusing than my own ‘traditional account’, so from now that is the label I will use.) To wit: that if my argument is correct, then civilians enjoy greater protection at the bar of the latter than of the former. The crucial question, thus, is whether the argument is correct – and in particular, whether the threshold conception of liability which I defend in section V can bear the weight of the argument. Jeff is sceptical, to say the least – and I myself am acutely aware of the fact that this is the most problematic part of the paper (though Massimo, whose comments I will attempt to tackle presently, has interesting doubts about my criticisms of the functionalist arguments.) But let me first clear up a misunderstanding pertaining causal contributions, and make a point about moral responsibility. In the paper, I make the following claim: ‘more often than not, welfare infrastructures and their agents will, in wartime, help both just and unjust combatants. … The same can be said, mutatis mutandis, of munitions factory workers. (58-59) Jeff confesses to finding this puzzling, on the following grounds: ‘There are undoubtedly cases in which weapons manufacturers supply weapons to both sides in a war. In those cases, the acts of munitions workers may contribute equally to the action of just and unjust combatants. But I suspect that this is true in only a small minority of cases. In World War II, for example, military production in the US was wholly separate from military production in Germany. And I don’t know of any cases in which the suppliers of food or medical care to one army have also been the suppliers to the opposing army as well.’ Here is the misunderstanding. My point was not that civilian workers provide both belligerents with military and/or welfare resources. Rather, my point was that a war which is unjust in toto is likely to have just phases - a point which Jeff himself makes in some of his writings, and which I stress on p. 57. Workers who work for the in-toto unjust side might thus end up contributing to just missions/phases of war within that in-toto-unjust war. I raise that issue for two reasons. First, Jeff’s misunderstanding prompted me to think about further examples of the point he attributed to me. Here is an interesting case, that of suppliers who work in a country who is occupied by an unjust enemy, and where a section of the population mounts military actions against the occupants (During WWII many French farmers supplied both German soldiers and French Resistants (the latter, from 1942 onwards, were organised into an army of a kind, with a chain of command, etc.) Much more work needs to be done, I think, on the ethics of war under the circumstances of a military occupation. It is a relatively overlooked issue, though one which, as a French and thus for very obvious reasons, has exercised me for some time. Second, proponents of the neo-classical account (of whom I am) must do more work on the implications for the account of the multifaceted character of war. As some of them have noted (Jeff himself, myself in this paper, Rodin too), it is not appropriate to speak of just and unjust combatants by referring solely to the moral status of the war ad bellum. In addition, more work needs to be done, I think, on the in-toto/in parte distinction (when does a war which has a just cause but unjust phases become unjust in toto, etc.?) A further thought on Pinto Shoome’s point to the effect that the defending nation is likely to have supplied the attacking nation with weapons in the past: true enough. But I have in mind civilians’ continuing, ongoing contributions to a war as the war unfolds – in which case it is unlikely that members of belligerent A would supply arms to belligerent B (though they might do so, of course, in which case their situation would be relevantly analogous to civilians from B who supply weapons to B. In attacking (or more likely prosecuting, one would hope) those individuals A, belligerent A would not necessarily be attacking itself (as opposed to some of its members.)
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Jan 14, 2010