The new natural lawyers take an odd position on just war. They think that all intentional killing is immoral--not just intentional killing of the innocent, but all intentional killing of humans. So they think that in warfare one should never intend to kill. Though they'd admit that many if not virtually all soldiers in war do intend to kill their opponents, they would say that this doesn't have to be so. It is possible to shoot an enemy solider, or bomb his base, without intending to kill him. This counterintuitive result is supposed to follow from their controversial action theory.
 Tollefsen, Christopher "Is a Purely First Person Account of Human Action Defensible?" Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, vol. 9, 2006, pp. 441-460.
The only time soldiers or whomever tend to intend to kill simply is in do or die circumstances. Most military action is suppression based: it's the elimination of a threat potential. This is actually how we all can judge whether or not some course of military action was morally outrageous.
Certain weapons are designed to cause mass maiming and injury and not intended to kill at all; these, however, are some of the worst weapons of war. The point is to dramatically increase the wounded population to drain a society of its labor potential and redirect desperately needed and already strained resources to succor and maintain the lame: as a society's resources and manpower are exasperated, the society is forced to either surrender or kill (immediately or by removing the life supporting services) their wounded countrymen.
Considering the above, it becomes obvious that fixating merely on the apparent intention to kill is no remedy to barbarism or depravity even in war. As the old saying goes, there are some fates and punishments worse than death.
A soldier sometimes does intend to kill his target as in the case of assassinations because the threat of the target isn't as it were merely bodily: in a way it's the mind and will of the target that's most dangerous and deadly. This, however, is typically rare. Soldiers in combat are engaged in eliminating threats: it would be stupid for a soldier to waste a single bullet or moment in a firefight or contest by fixating on killing some one enemy combatant. It suffices to render them disabled; however, to be sure, sometimes it's almost impossible practically to eliminate a threat potential without killing and it becomes practically necessary to kill and intend to kill. What's important here is that the intention "rides" on eliminating a threat to oneself or one's comrades or country or defending or securing something of vital interest to the same.
Any soldier in the business of killing for killing's sake is a moral hazard to the army and the nation. These people are psychopaths and allowing them to indulge in it only increases the danger and risk they will murder or kill when they come home. In war, the battle is rarely personal between soldiers. Even if the enemy is insulting your mother, he's likely doing it in a language you can't understand anyways and, after all, depending on the situation, a soldier might understand that had he just got a whoopin like the one he delivered to the other poor bastard he'd probably curse the guy's mother, too. My point here is to separate out personal vengeance, as when a police officer's person might be outraged and he is enticed in the heat of the moment to shoot the bastard when, say, non-lethal options were available. The death of comrades however can of course cause soldiers to seek personal vengeance; however, as a rule, this urge must be suppressed as military action requires severe discipline. Vigilante soldiers usually risk not only their own lives but everyone else's too.
Last edited by Timocrates (4/05/2017 1:49 pm)