Civilian immunity as an almost absolute moral rule
Protecting civilians during violent conflict : theoretical and practical issues for the 21st century
Farnham ; Burlington : Ashgate, 2012
Primoratz points out that the requirement to protect civilians against lethal violence is particularly prominent, and particularly strong, in just-war theory. Some adherents of the theory see civilian immunity as absolute, not to be overriden in any circumstances whatsoever. Others allow that it may be overriden, but only in extreme situations (where, for example, the very survival or freedom of a political community is at stake). Michael Walzer, for example, considers that a "supreme emergency" might provide the conditions to override the requirement to protect civilians. Primoratz examines some of the issues of interpretation and application of Walzer's "supreme emergency" view and some of the criticisms that have been levelled against it, and argues that the view is too permissive. He proceeds to construct a position that is similar to Walzer's, but much less permissive, which he terms the "moral disaster" view. According to this view, deliberate killing of civilians is almost absolutely wrong.