The Ethics of War and Peace: An Introduction to Legal and Moral Issues (2nd Edition)

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9780137862788: The Ethics of War and Peace: An Introduction to Legal and Moral Issues (2nd Edition)
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This classic introduction to the ethics of war and peace explores in depth the legal and moral issues of when and how to use force to achieve political objectives. A detailed overview and critical, philosophical analysis — written by a professional soldier with over 25 years of commissioned service — it surveys the historical development of just war reasoning, its incorporation into the international laws concerning when and how to wage war, and the specific shortcomings with existing laws and practices concerning the conduct of modern-day hostilities. Explores the often-conflicting moral and legal obligations that officers and soldiers have when ordered to fight in wars they believe to be unjust. Contains many recent examples — e.g., Gulf War, interventions in Bosnia, Haiti, Somalia. Addresses the moral and legal issues surrounding UN peacekeeping and peacemaking missions. Examines certain problematic aspects of the international laws of war and the just war tradition — e.g., obedience to superior orders, military necessity and reprisals. Shows that although many international laws currently in force are outdated (e.g., those prohibiting the use of barbed spears and glass bullets), the just war principles on which they are based can be used to formulate new laws more suitable to modern tactics and technology (e.g., flamethrowers and nerve agents). Highlights the influence of the Christian religion (both positive and negative) on the development of both the just war tradition and existing international law. For anyone interested in the ethics of war and peace.

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A detailed overview and critical, philosophical analysis, this text surveys the historical development of just war reasoning, its incorporation into the international laws concerning when and how to wage war, and the specific shortcomings with existing laws and practices concerning the conduct of modern-day hostilities.

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The most important decision that nations make is whether to use force for political objectives. In a democracy, all responsible citizens feel the weight of such decisions. The most important decision that military leaders have to make is how to fight the wars that their governments have authorized. I believe both that (1) human beings should not intentionally harm other human beings and (2) human beings may sometimes employ violence to protect themselves or others from harm. I call these two claims moral truths and, if one accepts both of them, it is obvious that they will occasionally conflict with one another. A central theme of this book is how conflicts between these two truths are best resolved. Specifically, I discuss those conditions that justify the use of force, and what the limits should be on the amount and types of force that may be used.

Because reasoning about moral and ethical issues does not lend itself to the same precision as mathematics, we must learn how to make responsible judgments based on relevant principles instead of learning how to plug facts into a formula for decision making. Rather than being a book about right answers, this is a book about right reasoning. My goal is for my readers to know not just what I believe but to understand why I believe as I do. I wish to thank my colleagues and students at the United States Military Academy, who steadfastly refused to accept any of my claims uncritically and whose incessant, detailed, always thoughtful, and sometimes brutal criticisms constantly forced me to reevaluate and refine my thinking on Just War. I especially benefited from discussions with A1 Bishop, Tim Challans, Gary Coleman, Randy Dipert, Merritt Drucker, Peter Fromm, Cathy Haight, Anthony Hartle, Bryan Keifer, Van Martin, Wallace Matson, Mark Mattox, David Newell, John Petrik, Louis Pojman, Rainer Spencer, Steve Tryon, Sandra Visser, Scott Weaver, Ted Westhusing, Robert Williams, and Dan Zupan. Others who read the entire manuscript and made numerous worthwhile suggestions include Lin Bredenfoerder, Gareth Matthews, Fariborz Mokhtari, and Alan Schactman.

The author also thanks the following reviewers for their constructive criticism: Louis R. Beres, Purdue University; Major Kristine V. Nakutis, U.S. Military Academy; Fariborz L. Mokhtari, Norwich University; and Wayne S. Osborn, Iowa State University.

Even as I send this manuscript to press, I am aware that some of my beliefs are probably false. Unfortunately, I don't know which ones they are. I trust that readers of this third edition will continue the tradition of accepting nothing I say uncritically, and that by engaging in a rigorous, open-minded dialectic we can all learn to think more clearly and competently about issues relevant to war and peace.

Paul Christopher
Lunenburg, Massachusetts

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9780130923837: The Ethics of War and Peace: An Introduction to Legal and Moral Issues (3rd Edition)

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ISBN 10:  0130923834 ISBN 13:  9780130923837
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