Morality and War: Can War be Just in the Twenty-first Century?

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9780199599240: Morality and War: Can War be Just in the Twenty-first Century?

With the ending of the strategic certainties of the Cold War, the need for moral clarity over when, where and how to start, conduct and conclude war has never been greater. There has been a recent revival of interest in the just war tradition. But can a medieval theory help us answer twenty-first century security concerns?

David Fisher explores how just war thinking can and should be developed to provide such guidance. His in-depth study examines philosophical challenges to just war thinking, including those posed by moral scepticism and relativism. It explores the nature and grounds of moral reasoning; the relation between public and private morality; and how just war teaching needs to be refashioned to provide practical guidance not just to politicians and generals but to ordinary service people.

The complexity and difficulty of moral decision-making requires a new ethical approach - here characterised as virtuous consequentialism - that recognises the importance of both the internal quality and external effects of agency; and of the moral principles and virtues needed to enact them. Having reinforced the key tenets of just war thinking, Fisher uses these to address contemporary security issues, including the changing nature of war, military pre-emption and torture, the morality of the Iraq war, and humanitarian intervention. He concludes that the just war tradition provides not only a robust but an indispensable guide to resolve the security challenges of the twenty-first century.

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About the Author:


David Fisher is a Visiting Senior Fellow at Kings College, London where he has recently completed a PhD in War Studies. He has served in senior positions in the Ministry of Defence, Foreign Office and Cabinet Office, including defence adviser to the Prime Minister in the Cabinet Office and the UK Defence Counsellor to NATO. He is co-Chairman of the Council on Christian Approaches to Defence and Disarmament. He regularly contributes to books and journal on defence and ethical issues. He is the author of Morality and the Bomb, written when he was a research fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, and has recently co-edited Just War on Terror? examining how the new global threat of terrorism can be combated both effectively and justly.

Review:


"Morality and War is beautifully written, its points reinforced by a wealth of apposite examples drawn from both history and the authors own experience. It is informed, authoritative, and persuasive. It is also important. We live, at least in the West, in an era of wars of choice. This wise book, written by a man who has had to practice the ethics of war as well as reflect on them, should be compulsory reading for all those who have to do the choosing, and the fighting."--Professor Tim Bale, Chair of the Award Committee, announcing the unanimous decision of the judges for the 2012 W.J.M. Mackenzie Book Prize for the best book of the year in political science


"While advocating the use of just war principles to evaluate modern armed conflict, Fisher takes the innovative step of introducing virtue theory into these debates ... virtuous consequentialism offers practitioners and theorists an important analytical and educational tool."--Ethics and International Affairs


"The book is well written, clearly articulated and does not shy from using the tradition for what it was intended to do - make judgements about the use of deadly force."--Expository Times


"The book eloquently makes clear that no one, from the soldier in the trenches to the commander in chief, can escape moral choices. The only question is whether one's choices are worthy and well reasoned."--Foreign Affairs


"Fisher's style is bold and provocative...Morality and War is a strikingly successful book; lucid, accessible and provocative. It is among the best works I have read on the ethics of the use of armed force. Fisher deserves a wide readership among scholars, among those who make decisions about war and peace, and among those in the armed forces who must carry out those decisions."--International Affairs


"From time to time a book appears on an important subject and becomes a 'must read'. This is one such... it is certainly the best guide to military ethics in modern times."--RUSI Journal


"An admirable book...like all good philosophers [Fisher] brings every issue down to earth with luminous examples...irresistible."--British Army Review


"A deep pleasure to read. The concepts are clear, the language and argument accessible to the general reader...a most significant book about the deepest issues: life and death, war and peace, how we approach our common humanity"--The Irish Catholic


"Reading this book will do both philosophers and bureaucrats a world of good."--Sir Michael Howard


"A lucid account and robust defence of the just-war tradition ... an admirable book."--Anthony Kenny, Times Literary Supplement


"David Fisher seeks to develop the just war tradition further in response to today's circumstances. He is almost uniquely qualified for this task, having been trained as a moral philosopher and then having spent his career as a senior official in the UK Ministry of Defence."--Financial Times


"Fascinating and persuasive ... If you want a well-informed and up-to date assessment of just war theory, written in pellucid prose, then this is the book to buy... It brings together wisdom, clarity, and deep experience, and is both readable and challenging."--Church Times


"This discussion of the ethics of warfare by a professional philosopher and former civil servant ought to be studied (and occasionally disagreed with) by anyone concerned with global politics today. I recommend it warmly (as book of the year choice, 2011)."--Brian Wicker, The Tablet


"...a well-informed, well-argued exposition of the continuing relevance of the Just War tradition, combined with a passionate polemic for the importance of ethics education, both within the Armed Forces, and beyond."--Journal of Military Ethics


"[This] book faces in a number of different directions and can be read profitably by a wide range of scholars and practitioners."--Theological Studies


"...the author's efforts to broker a dialogue between the just war tradition and the Aristotelian conception of virtue strike me as breath of fresh air, welcome and daring in equal measure."--Perspectives on Politics


"...sheds important new light on the role of ethical and philosophical thinking about war ... an important contribution to the Just War debate."--Survival


"...a closely argued and immensely stimulating discussion of modern warfare from a moral perspective ...This is a fine book."--New Blackfriars


"a lucid discussion and application of just war theory ... intellectually robust, well-written."--Michael Skerker, Journal of the American Academy of Religion


"Many people, including those with no previous experience of the serious study of ethics, will benefit from reading this book, which is a model of lucidity, precision of argument, and clarity of purpose." Journal of Theological Studies


"Fresh and compelling ... Fisher's book succeeds in bringing original thinking to the morality of war."--Politics and Religion


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