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The Ethics of War and Peace: An Introduction to Legal and Moral Issues / Edition 2

The Ethics of War and Peace: An Introduction to Legal and Moral Issues / Edition 2

by Paul Christopher


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Paul Christopher, a teacher who also served as a commissioned officer for over twenty-five years, has updated his classic, The Ethics of War and Peace. Christopher traces the historical development of just war reasoning, its incorporation into international laws concerning when and how to wage war, and certain shortcomings with existing laws and practices concerning the conduct of modern-day hostilities.

New to this Edition:

  • New chapter on terrorism and war.
  • Revised section on the Just War Tradition and weapons of mass destruction to reflect changes in technology.
  • New section on professional and humanitarian obligations, with special focus on the role of the United Nations.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780137862788
Publisher: Pearson
Publication date: 06/26/1998
Edition description: Older Edition
Pages: 259
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.93(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 6 Years

Table of Contents


1. Just War in Antiquity.
2. Christianity and the Just War Tradition.
3. Saint Augustine and the Tradition of Just War.
4. Secularization of the Just War Tradition.


5. Hugo Grotius: Father of International Law.
6. Hugo Grotius and the Just War.
7. Problems for International Law.
8. The Enemy: Cold–blooded Killers, or Comrades in Arms?


9. The Responsibility for War Crimes.
10. Military Necessity.
11. Reprisals.
12. Humanitarian Intervention.
13. Unjust Wars and Professional Obligations.
14. Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Weapons.
Selected Bibliography.


The most important decision that nations make is whether to use force for political objectives. In a democracy, all responsible citizens feel the weight of such decisions. The most important decision that military leaders have to make is how to fight the wars that their governments have authorized. I believe both that (1) human beings should not intentionally harm other human beings and (2) human beings may sometimes employ violence to protect themselves or others from harm. I call these two claims moral truths and, if one accepts both of them, it is obvious that they will occasionally conflict with one another. A central theme of this book is how conflicts between these two truths are best resolved. Specifically, I discuss those conditions that justify the use of force, and what the limits should be on the amount and types of force that may be used.

Because reasoning about moral and ethical issues does not lend itself to the same precision as mathematics, we must learn how to make responsible judgments based on relevant principles instead of learning how to plug facts into a formula for decision making. Rather than being a book about right answers, this is a book about right reasoning. My goal is for my readers to know not just what I believe but to understand why I believe as I do. I wish to thank my colleagues and students at the United States Military Academy, who steadfastly refused to accept any of my claims uncritically and whose incessant, detailed, always thoughtful, and sometimes brutal criticisms constantly forced me to reevaluate and refine my thinking on Just War. I especially benefited from discussions with A1 Bishop, Tim Challans, Gary Coleman,Randy Dipert, Merritt Drucker, Peter Fromm, Cathy Haight, Anthony Hartle, Bryan Keifer, Van Martin, Wallace Matson, Mark Mattox, David Newell, John Petrik, Louis Pojman, Rainer Spencer, Steve Tryon, Sandra Visser, Scott Weaver, Ted Westhusing, Robert Williams, and Dan Zupan. Others who read the entire manuscript and made numerous worthwhile suggestions include Lin Bredenfoerder, Gareth Matthews, Fariborz Mokhtari, and Alan Schactman.

The author also thanks the following reviewers for their constructive criticism: Louis R. Beres, Purdue University; Major Kristine V. Nakutis, U.S. Military Academy; Fariborz L. Mokhtari, Norwich University; and Wayne S. Osborn, Iowa State University.

Even as I send this manuscript to press, I am aware that some of my beliefs are probably false. Unfortunately, I don't know which ones they are. I trust that readers of this third edition will continue the tradition of accepting nothing I say uncritically, and that by engaging in a rigorous, open-minded dialectic we can all learn to think more clearly and competently about issues relevant to war and peace.

Paul Christopher
Lunenburg, Massachusetts

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