Over that last several decades the ethics of war has grown into a major subfield in philosophy at the same time as large literatures have developed on the relation between gender and war as well as feminist approaches to the ethics of war. This article aims to contribute to these literatures and to bring them into closer contact. It argues that canonical just war theorists such as Grotius, Pufendorf, Vattel, and Walzer rely on appeals to masculinity to help ground the obligations of soldiers to participate in war upon command. This appeal helps them overcome their otherwise weak arguments for the political subordination of soldiers, or what I call the Internal Problem of the soldier. It also helps explain a problem that has vexed contemporary ethics of war scholars, namely, the supposed equal right to kill combatants in war, or what I call the External Problem of the soldier. If this is true, then just war theorists should be much more concerned with the gender and war literature and find common ground with feminists who have treated the problem of the political standing of soldiers as a philosophical priority.
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