I wrote this post on purpose
August 7, 2012 § 20 Comments
It is always immoral to deliberately kill the innocent, even in prosecuting a just war. Shorthand for “innocent” is “anyone not choosing to engage in combat or combat support actions”. At a minimum, the unborn and small children actually killed deliberately by Little Boy and Fat Man were innocent in the pertinent sense.
The fact that it is possible to enter and conduct a war justly does not imply that it is morally ok to do evil during a war. It is never ok to do evil. That is what “evil” means.
The difference between anticipating that innocents will be killed by accident in a just war and a supposed moral license to kill them deliberately is the same as the difference between anticipating that innocents will be killed by accident on the freeway and a supposed moral license to go run them over on purpose. It isn’t a difficult distinction: it is one every child knows intuitively. When weapons fire kills innocents by going astray from its target, or because it was not known that innocents were at the target, that is an accident. When weapons fire hits it’s target, a target known to include innocents in the morally pertinent sense, that is on purpose.
Only when the work of attempting to justify slaughtering civilians on purpose in war comes up does the distinction between foreseen-but-accidental and on purpose become so befuddling.
(This post brought to you by the committee to enable Zippy to link to a post rather than rewriting the same bloody thing over and over again to endlessly befuddled commenters in comboxes around the web).