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Tuer au combat : réflexions philosophiques sur le dilemme du combattant

Abstract : In this thesis, we study the warrior’s moral dilemma, between the moral interdiction of killing human beings and the moral duty to kill the enemy, from the perspective of the soldier and the perspective of the citizen. For both of them, the issue of killing in war is an aporia than questions the sacredness of human life, which stands as the foundation of the western set of moral values. The warrior’s dilemma is very specific and limited to single moments, the ones of combat actions. The warrior faces the dilemma at those specific times but war life conditions (deprivations, traumas, wounds) impede their capability of moral reasoning. Besides, during combat action, the warrior acts reflexively. Combat conditions therefore result in a moral eclipse and the action of killing precedes the decision to do so. The veteran must then judge their own act in a post-action dilemma. The warrior’s dilemma does not prevent action but the moral evaluation of past war acts. The veteran is actually facing an aporia on human life’s value because they destroyed some to save others, in the name of the sacred value of all human lives. The warrior’s dilemma does not regard the citizens. The latter believe that military operations are decided according to moral reasons. During the war, they prefer to deny any death and destruction that happen overseas. In that way, just wars remain clean wars. Eventually, the acceptability mask concealing the real conditions of war fades away and denials become impossible. The citizens then isolate themselves from the unethical soldiers but the unease of their consciences brings them back to their responsibilities. They then face an aporia that is close the veteran’s one because based on war’s dilemma: destroying human lives to save others. These two aporias demonstrate that war questions the sacred value of human life and therefore western moral values and that it is the responsibility of the citizens, both civilians and the military, to be accountable for the level of moral unacceptability that they are willing to endure to defend their own moral values
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Benoît Olié. Tuer au combat : réflexions philosophiques sur le dilemme du combattant. Philosophie. Université Paris-Est, 2019. Français. ⟨NNT : 2019PESC2057⟩. ⟨tel-02488972⟩

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