PHIL/POLI/PWAD 272.003 – The Ethics of Peace, War, and Defense

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Instructor: Kiran Bhardwaj. This course meets TR 8:00 – 9:15 a.m. in CW 105.

Can it ever be rightful to engage in war? Those who care about international relations must grapple with this question, which is focused on our hopes for peace, our reasons to take up arms, our responsibilities to our citizens and soldiers, and the harms that might befall the innocent in a conflict. In the first half of the Ethics of Peace, War, and Defense, we will consider some of the most powerful arguments for what we ought to do when there are reasons to engage in armed conflict. Perhaps engaging in such conflicts is ‘just the way the world is’, perhaps it is never morally acceptable to engage in violence, or perhaps we can identify certain conditions and ways of proceeding that can make participation in armed conflict justified.

The second half of the course will look into applied topics. For example, we often practice war so that any aggression is only directed at the military. Can we really draw such a clear line, either practically or ethically? What distinguishes terrorism from other acts of violence in war? What are emerging technologies for the practice of war, and what are the ethical implications of their use? Do we have obligations to refugees—if so, under what conditions? When we are justified in intervening in an international conflict, and what we must do in order to remove our agents after a conflict? These, and more, will be the topics of this course.