Workshop on Helen Frowe’s Defensive Killing and Seth Lazar’s Sparing Civilians

Carnegie Council for Ethics and International Affairs
170 East 64th Street, New York
29 – 30 September, 2015

Jeff McMahan (Oxford)
Adil Haque (Rutgers)
Cheyney Ryan (Oregon and Oxford)
Massimo Renzo (King’s College London)
Kimberly Ferzan (Virginia)
Christian Barry (ANU)
Yitzhak Benbaji (Tel Aviv)
Victor Tadros (Warwick)

Helen Frowe’s Defensive Killing (OUP, 2014) is the most systematic attempt to date to offer a complete and coherent theory of the morality of war grounded in individual rights. It casts serious doubt on the principle of noncombatant immunity, arguing instead that the proper dividing line is between those who are and are not responsible for contributing to unjustified threats in war. Seth Lazar’s Sparing Civilians (OUP, in press) takes the opposite approach. Though Lazar agrees that responsibility matters, he identifies multiple overlapping foundations for the protection of civilians in war, each of which goes to show that, all else equal, killing civilians is worse than killing soldiers. As well as underpinning noncombatant immunity, this principle is crucial to just war doctrines of proportionality and necessity.

Frowe’s and Lazar’s books are at the cutting edge of contemporary moral and political philosophy, but also engage directly with practical policy issues that could not be more tragically salient, as the status of civilians in war is called into question in multiple conflicts across Africa and the Middle East, and in responses to terrorist attacks elsewhere. This two-day event brings together leading philosophers to engage with Frowe and Lazar’s work.

The workshop is sponsored by the Australian Research Council, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and the Society for Applied Philosophy. The workshop is free to attend (including lunch and refreshments), but places are limited. Please email to reserve a place.

Update: All the papers and discussions are now available on youtube.