PHIL/POLI/PWAD 272.002 – The Ethics of Peace, War, and Defense

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Instructor: Alex Campbell. This course meets TR 8:00 – 9:15 a.m. in FH 104.

This is a course in normative ethics focused on issues pertaining to war. Some questions that we will address include: Is going to war ever morally justified? If so, under what conditions? Do moral rules apply in the context of war or does anything go? If there are moral rules governing conduct in war, do these rules differ from those that apply in non-war settings? Is torture ever justifiable? If so, when? What is distinctive about terrorism? What is owed to war refugees, and who is responsible for providing what is owed to them? The course is text-centered. We begin with a brief introduction to moral philosophy, and then turn to realism and pacifism. The bulk of the course will be focused on just war theory. We will look at authors such as Jeff McMahan, Thomas Hurka, Thomas Nagel, Yitzhak Benbaji, Saba Bazargan-Forward, and others. We end by considering issues pertaining to torture, terrorism, and refugees. The goal of the course is to improve our understanding of the ethics of war and assess the arguments for competing views while reflecting on our own values. Along the way we get practice in reading difficult texts and developing arguments to support our moral convictions.