It's been awhile so it seems again it's time for a helpful reminder that noncombatant immunity isn't just a good idea, it's the law.
In other words: You're not allowed to kill civilians.
Killing civilians is against the law. Killing civilians makes you a criminal.
Yes, but ...
No buts about it. You're not allowed to kill civilians.
And, also: You're not allowed to kill civilians....
The common thread in all of these scenarios -- hypothetical or actual -- is the idea of double effect. A doctor, for example, is bound by oath to "do no harm." Slicing someone with a razor-sharp knife would certainly seem to constitute doing harm. But if the doctor is slicing someone with a scalpel because this cutting is an inescapable part of surgery needed and intended to heal, then the doctor may -- perhaps even must -- perform such slicing without violating her oath.... If there is any possible way to achieve the intended effect without producing the unintended effect, then double-effect does not apply -- the doctor may not slice, the general may not attack. If there is any possible way to achieve the necessary intended effect without producing the unintended effect and you act, instead, in a way that produces this secondary effect, then you have not produced "collateral damage," you have simply slaughtered civilians.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Prick up yer ears, ya little freaks!
Fred Clark makes it simple for you: