Dr Seth Lazar, Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, University of Oxford
Abstract: In this paper, I introduce and begin the defence of the following Associativist Account of the ethics of killing in war: Most of us share a number of morally important relationships with compatriots—both as co-citizens, and in virtue of the deeper relationships that often overlap with citizenship, such as family, friendship, and fellowship of arms. When aggressors attack, they threaten those with whom we share these relationships, and our political community as such. Sometimes we can protect our community and our loved ones only if we fight and kill. We have duties to protect our associates, and the community we share, grounded in the value of these special relationships. Our armed forces are the executors of those duties. When they fight, those duties clash with the rights that they must violate to win the war. In some cases, the associative duties to protect can override the negative duties corresponding to those rights, thus rendering killing and maiming all things considered justified.