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Paper   IPM / Philosophy / 14946
School of Analytic Philosophy
  Title:   Targeting Human Shields
1.  Amir Saemi
2.  Philip Atkins
  Status:   Published
  Journal: Philosophical Quarterly
  No.:  271
  Vol.:  68
  Year:  2018
  Pages:   328-348
  Supported by:  IPM
In this paper, we are concerned with the morality of killing human shields. Many moral philosophers seem to believe that knowingly killing human shields necessarily involves intentionally targeting human shields. If we assume that the distinction between intention and foresight is morally significant, then this view would entail that it is generally harder to justify a military operation in which human shields are knowingly killed than a military operation in which the same number of casualties result as a merely foreseen side effect. We argue, however, that only some cases of knowingly killing human shields should be regarded as intentionally targeting human shields, and thus only those cases face higher bars of justification. We shall formulate different principles that help us to distinguish between cases where a military operation involves the deliberate harming of human shields and cases where it does not. As we shall see, these principles are relevant in scenarios that are all too realistic and common, such as the bombing of legitimate military targets located amid civilian populations.

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