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Do Some Soldiers Deserve to Die More than Others?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWho Should Die? The Ethics of Killing in War
EditorsBJ Strawser, M Robillard, R Jenkins
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780190495657
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2017

King's Authors


Many would say that a conscript coming toward you with “love in his heart” is somehow less blameworthy than a soldier who has quite deliberately chosen to participate in an unjust conflict. If you are more culpable, are you more deserving of death than others who surely cannot be blamed for the predicament they find themselves in? Many states recognize the rights of committed pacifists to refuse to fight, but very few states are willing to allow their soldiers to refuse to fight if it is a particular conflict which they consider to be unjust—a position known as selective conscientious objection. This chapter explores the way that three different Western militaries currently deal with soldiers who refuse on ethical grounds to participate in a specific conflict in order to answer the question Do soldiers from some states deserve to die more than others if those states fight unjust wars?

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