PHIL 3140/5700: Ethics of War

Course Description:  There has been a long, intellectual tradition in thinking about the moral justification of war, ranging at least from Thomas Aquinas’s writings in the 13th century to Michael Walzer’s Just and Unjust Wars to contemporary work by Jeff McMahan and others. The tradition draws distinctions between the justice of war itself (jus ad bellum), restrictions on our conduct within war (jus in bello), and our obligations following the conclusion of war (jus post bellum).  The contemporary advent of terrorism arguably challenges central tenets of this just war tradition, replacing the doctrine of preemption with that of prevention, blurring the distinction between civilians and combatants, accelerating both the speed and potential damage of attacks, and so on. How, if at all, should these features of terrorism lead to a revision of just war principles? Finally, consider modern military technologies, including weaponry, robotics, drones, cyber, and warfighter enhancement. Do these alter the state of play such that traditional just war principles become displaced? Or can these principles accommodate novel technologies?  [This course has been run under different course codes but has the same description; either title has substantial units on both just war theory and the ethics of emerging weapons technologies.]

Course Syllabus ([Phil 5700] Spring 2014, [PHIL 3140/GIST 3500] Spring 2018)

@ University of Michigan [Phil 430:  Topics in Ethics:  Ethics of War].  Course Syllabus (Fall 2010)

@ University of Wyoming [Pols 4710].  Course Syllabus (Fall 2016)

@ University of Notre Dame.  Course Syllabus ([PHIL 20628:  Ethics of Emerging Weapons Technologies] Spring 2017, [PHIL 20422:  Just War Theory] Fall 2017)