more from Michael Walzer

Single Idea 23586

[catalogued under 25. Social Practice / E. Policies / 1. War / d. Non-combatants]

Full Idea

The crucial distinction in the theory and practice of war is not between prohibited and acceptable weapons but between prohibited and acceptable targets.

Gist of Idea

What matters in war is unacceptable targets, not unacceptable weapons


Michael Walzer (Just and Unjust Wars [1977], 17)

Book Reference

Walzer,Michael: 'Just and Unjust Wars' [Penguin 1984], p.276

A Reaction

Walzer presents this idea as arising out of discussions about nuclear deterrence. Gas attacks were accepted in WW1 trenches, but modern gas attacks on civilians are a crime. Are nuclear attacks on strictly military targets OK? E.g a fleet.