In both morality and law, it is still common to say that soldiers’ lives do not count for very much in assessments of whether or not a particular war or armed conflict is justifiably initiated and conducted. Larry May argues that soldiers should be acknowledged to have the humanitarian right not to be killed unnecessarily. Also, he argues that military necessity is best conceived as a form of practical necessity. He argues for a strengthening of the principle of military necessity, so that a soldier’s life can only be taken if it is practically necessary to achieve a needed military objective. He then sets out a new way to understand humanitarian norms that is in keeping with the idea that the humans who are soldiers should be treated with at least minimal dignity. He supports an expanded view of humanitarian rights that takes account of soldiers’ unique vulnerabilities.
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