Taking War Seriously
University of Montreal
December 10, 2010
In this essay, I argue that just war theory − as advanced by Michael Walzer, among others − fails to take war seriously enough. This is because it proposes that we regulate war with systematic rules that are comparable to those of a game. Three types of claims are advanced. The first is phenomenological: that just war theory’s abstract nature interferes with our judgment of what is, and should be, going on. The second is metaethical: that the rules of just war theory are not, in fact, systematic after all, there being inherent contradictions between them. And the third is practical: that by getting people to view war as a game it encourages its “aestheticization” (play being a central mode of the aesthetic) with the result that those who fight are led to act in dangerous ways. And war, it goes without saying, is already dangerous enough.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 20
Keywords: Just War Theory, Michael Walzer, Israel, Gamesworking papers series
Date posted: December 13, 2010 ; Last revised: June 15, 2013
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