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Instructor: Samantha Wakil. This course meets MTWRF 1:15 – 2:45 p.m. via remote synchronous (RS) instruction.

This is an introductory course in the ethics of peace, war, and defense. It presupposes no prior background in the subject matter or philosophy more generally. Some questions and topics that we will address include:

  1.  Is going to war ever morally justified?  If so, under what conditions?
  2.  Are there moral rules when engaged in war? or does anything go?
  3.  Self-defense.
  4.  Is patriotism a virtue or vice?
  5.  Nuclear warfare, drones, AI, and other technology.
  6.  Terrorism and torture.
  7.  What, exactly, is peace?  Is it merely the absence of war?
  8.  What would a peaceful society look like?
  9.  Are peace and violence mutually exclusive?
  10.  Cooperation and co-evolution.
  11.  Obstacles to peace — and reasons to be hopeful?


Approach to the Course and a Warning

The approach:  I’m an ardent supporter of interdisciplinary work.  Accordingly, this course will draw heavily on research outside of philosophy (evolutionary biology, political science, history, economics, psychology, etc.)Throughout the course we will be investigating what, if any, implications research in these other disciplines have for our philosophizing about the ethics of peace and war.

The warning: This course is text-centered and will require weekly readings that you are expected to complete before class.  The topics we will be wrestling with are complex and very challenging.  You will not do well unless you attend class and keep up with the readings.  Like smoking and cancer, your performance, and your effort (attendance, participation, reading comprehension, etc.)  are highly positively correlated.