Like Jeff McMahan said, occupation involves both the threat of military force and the use of military force; hence it is akin to war - references to the occupation of Iraq. In reference to war the occupation is divided between the principles ius ad bellum (that is, that govern the resort to and continuation of war) and ius in bello (that govern the conduct of war). Naturally,this division may also apply to the occupation.

The theory of occupation will thus face similar problems as the theory of war - problems revealed by Jeff McMahan arguing against the theoretician of Traditional Just War Theory, Michael Walzer. I try to show these problems and provide possible solutions by following Jeff McMahan’s train of thought. I examine the unjust occupation and the moral status of the occupation as such. This is the starting point to the key considerations in my paper, i.e. considerations concerning the degree of moral responsibility of soldiers participating in an unjust occupation.

Michael Walzer argues that soldiers involved in unjust wars can be justified morally on the basis of arguments from ignorance and the argument from coercion. McMahan, however, is of a different opinion. He believes that these soldiers can only be explained, and not justified, and proved it by basing argument on thesis brought about by Walzer. After a comparative analysis of both stances I approach the issue from the perspective of Judith Lichtenberg, as she also tried to judge the "unjust soldiers"- "unjust combatant" in terms of their responsibilities.


The above text is an abstract from Begina Slawinska’s paper, delivered at the conference "Why help a stranger. Ethical aspects of global justice", which took place on 11-12 December 2010, at  the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. Organizers: Interdisciplinary Center for Ethics of the Jagiellonian University and the Institute of Philosophy Jagiellonian University.

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