Philosophy of war

The Philosophy of War Ziyad Hayatli presents a condensed history of the philosophy of war.

Philosophy of war

Traditionalists and Revisionists Contemporary just war theory is dominated by two camps: Their views on the morality of war are substantially led by international law, especially the law of armed conflict. They aim to provide those laws with morally defensible foundations. Civilians may not be targeted in war, but all combatants, whatever Philosophy of war are fighting for, are morally permitted to target one another, even when doing so foreseeably harms some civilians so long as it does not do so excessively.

Most revisionists are moral revisionists only: Some, however, are both morally and legally revisionist. Among its key contributions were its defence of central traditionalist positions on national defence, humanitarian intervention, discrimination, and combatant equality.


Revisionist criticism of combatant equality and discrimination followed Holmes ; McMahan ; Norman They have accordingly sought firmer foundations for broadly traditionalist positions on national defence Benbaji ; Moorehumanitarian intervention Coadydiscrimination Rodin b; Dill and Shue ; Lazar cand especially combatant equality Zohar ; Kutz ; Benbaji ; Shue ; Steinhoff ; Emerton and Handfield ; Benbaji We will delve deeper into these debates in what follows.

Philosophy of war, though, some methodological groundwork. Traditionalists and revisionists alike often rely on methodological or second-order premises, to the extent that one might think that the first-order questions are really just proxy battles through which they work out their deeper disagreements Lazar and Valentini forthcoming.

Readers are directed to the excellent work of philosophers and intellectual historians such as Greg Reichberg, Pablo Kalmanovitz, Daniel Schwartz, and Rory Cox to gain further insights about historical just war theory see, in particular, Cox ; Kalmanovitz ; Reichberg ; Schwartz In particular, we should prescribe morally justified laws of war.

We then tell individuals and groups that they ought to follow those laws.

War (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

On the second approach, we should focus first on the moral reasons that apply directly to individual and group actions, without the mediating factor of institutions. We tell individuals and groups to act as their moral reasons dictate. Indirect consequentialists believe these institutions are justified just in case they will in fact have better long-run results than any feasible alternative institutions see Mavrodes ; Dill and Shue ; Shue ; Waldron Non-contractualist deontologists and direct- or act-consequentialists tend to prefer the interactional approach.

Their central question is: This focus on killing might seem myopic—war involves much more violence and destruction than the killing alone. However, typically this is just a heuristic device; since we typically think of killing as the most presumptively wrongful kind of harm, whatever arguments one identifies that justify killing are likely also to justify lesser wrongs.

And if the killing that war involves cannot be justified, then we should endorse pacifism. Any normative theory of war should pay attention both to what the laws of war should be, and to what we morally ought to do. These are two distinct but equally important questions. And they entail the importance of a third: Too much recent just war theory has focused on arguing that philosophical attention should be reserved to one of the first two of these questions Buchanan ; Shue; Rodin b.

Not enough has concentrated on the third though see McMahan ; Lazar a. Although this entry touches on the first question, it focuses on the second. Addressing the first requires detailed empirical research and pragmatic political speculation, both of which are beyond my remit here.

Addressing the third takes us too deep into the minutiae of contemporary just war theory for an encyclopaedia entry. Rule-consequentialists need an account of the good bad that they are hoping that the ideal laws of war will maximise minimise in the long run.

This means, for example, deciding whether to aim to minimise all harm, or only to minimise wrongful harm. But to follow this course, we need to know which harms are extra-institutionally wrongful.

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Similarly, contractualists typically acknowledge various constraints on the kinds of rules that could form the basis of a legitimate contract, which, again, we cannot work out without thinking about the extra-institutional morality of war Benbaji We can start by thinking about actual wars and realistic wartime scenarios, paying attention to international affairs and military history.

Or, more clinically, we can construct hypothetical cases to isolate variables and test their impact on our intuitions. Some early revisionists relied heavily on highly artificial cases e. They were criticized for this by traditionalists, who generally use more empirically-informed examples Walzer Revisionists can pay close attention to actual conflicts e.

Traditionalists can use artificial hypotheticals e. Abstraction forestalls unhelpful disputes over historical details. It also reduces bias—we are inclined to view actual conflicts through the lens of our own political allegiances. But it also has costs. We should be proportionately less confident of our intuitions the more removed the test case is from our lived experience.Overall, the philosophy of war is complex and requires one to articulate consistent thought across the fields of metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, political philosophy, and .

An encyclopedia of philosophy articles written by professional philosophers.

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John Adams. Mathematics, Politics, Philosophy, Study. The philosophy of war examines war beyond the typical questions of weaponry and strategy, inquiring into such things as the meaning and etiology of war, the relationship between war and human nature, and the ethics of war.

Certain aspects of the philosophy of war may overlap with the philosophy. That prisoners of war have definite rights, and that non-combatants should be treated differently that soldiers.

Philosophy of war

Some think the idea of a morality of warfare makes no sense, and that the distinction between soldiers and non-combatants is meaningless in the setting of modern warfare. The philosophy of war is the area of philosophy devoted to examining issues such as the causes of war, the relationship between war and human nature, and the ethics of war.

Certain aspects of the philosophy of war overlap with the philosophy of history, political philosophy and the philosophy of law. Works about the philosophy of war Carl von Clausewitz, painting by Karl Wilhelm Wach.

The Philosophy of War and Peace - The Imaginative Conservative