§1 Stage setting
- The kind of actual problem that concerns him: limits on war
- And two philosophical views: utilitarianism and absolutism
- Target: characterize the utilitarian position
- Goal: show absolutism underlies “a valid and fundamental type of moral judgment”
§3 Characterize the absolutist position
- Not pacifism
- Canonical statement: “certain acts cannot be justified no matter what the consequences. Among these acts is murder - the deliberate killing of the harmless: civilians, prisoners of war, and medical personnel.”
- Not a rejection of bringing about better results in all cases.
§4 Digression: clarify absolutism on three points
- What the absolutist prohibitions apply to. Intentionally doing things to others, distinguished from results of what one does.
- Not just “killing the innocent is very bad” in a utilitarian calculus.
- Absoutism is not based on a kind of moral self-interest: purity, clean hands.
§5 Argument for absolutism
This is where the most significant work is done.
- Hostility must be directed at appropriate targets
- We must always direct our treatment of others towards them as “subjects.”
- Test: could we justify our behavior to those effected by it? If not, then the behavior fails to meet the absolutist standard.
§6 Application to war crimes
- Attacks must be directed at combatants and directed at stopping the threat they pose.
- Two issues:
(a) What does “innocence” mean?
(b) Restrictions on weapons used in combat
§7 Extreme cases
What if the consequences of violating an absolutist rule would be extremely bad?