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Fabre, Cécile, , . Cosmopolitan War
2012, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
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Back matter: War is about individuals maiming and killing each other, and yet, it seems that it is also irreducibly collective, as it is fought by groups of people and more often than not for the sake of communal values such as territorial integrity and national self-determination. Cécile Fabre articulates and defends an ethical account of war in which the individual, as a moral and rational agent, is the fundamental focus for concern and respect–both as a combatant whose acts of killing need justifying and as a non-combatant whose suffering also needs justifying. She takes as her starting point a political morality to which the individual, rather than the nation-state, is central, namely cosmopolitanism. According to cosmopolitanism, individuals all matter equally, irrespective of their membership in this or that political community. Traditional war ethics already accepts this principle, since it holds that unarmed civilians are illegitimate targets even though they belong to the enemy community. However, although the traditional account of whom we may kill in wars is broadly faithful to that principle, the traditional account of why we may kill and of who may kill is not. Cosmopolitan theorists, for their part, do not address the ethical issues raised by war in any depth. Fabre’s Cosmopolitan War seeks to fill this gap, and defends its account of just and unjust wars by addressing the ethics of different kinds of war: wars of national defence, wars over scarce resources, civil wars, humanitarian intervention, wars involving private military forces, and asymmetrical wars.

Comment: This is a pivotal text on new war theory. It is best used as a primary text in advanced war theory, especially for those already familiar with the general literature on Just War.

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Frowe, Helen, , . Non-Combatant Liability in War
2011, In Frowe, Helen and Gerald Lang. How We Fight: Ethics in War. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Publisher: How We Fight: Ethics in War contains ten groundbreaking essays by some of the leading philosophers of war. The essays offer new perspectives on key debates including pacifism, punitive justifications for war, the distribution of risk between combatants and non-combatants, the structure of ‘just war theory’, and bases of individual liability in war.

Comment: This text is best used in modules or classes introducing or investigating military ethics, war theory, and legal philosophy. This should be a primary text for such classes.

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Frowe, Helen, , . The Ethics of War and Peace: An Introduction
2011, London: Routledge.
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Publisher: When is it right to go to war? When is a war illegal? What are the rules of engagement? What should happen when a war is over? How should we view terrorism? The Ethics of War and Peace is a fresh and contemporary introduction to one of the oldest but still most relevant ethical debates. It introduces students to contemporary Just War Theory in a stimulating and engaging way, perfect for those approaching the topic for the first time. Helen Frowe explains the core issues in Just War Theory, and chapter by chapter examines the recent and ongoing philosophical? debates on:

  • theories of self defence and national defence
  • Jus ad Bellum, Jus in Bello, and Jus post Bellum
  • the moral status of combatants
  • the principle of non-combatant immunity
  • the nature of terrorism and the moral status of terrorists.

Each chapter concludes with a useful summary, discussion questions and suggestions for further reading, to aid student learning and revision. The Ethics of War and Peace is the ideal textbook for students studying philosophy, politics and international relations.

Comment: This text is best used in modules or classes introducing or investigating military ethics, war theory, and legal philosophy.

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McPherson, Lionel K., , . Is Terrorism Distinctively Wrong?
2007, Ethics 117(3): 524-546.
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Introduction: Many people, including philosophers, believe that terrorism is necessarily and egregiously wrong. I will call this “the dominant view.” The dominant view maintains that terrorism is akin to murder. This forecloses the possibility that terrorism, under any circumstances, could be morally permissible—murder, by definition, is wrongful killing. The unqualified wrongness of terrorism is thus part of this understanding of terrorism.

I will criticize the dominant view. Some philosophers have argued that terrorism might not be impermissible on either a rights‐based or a consequentialist analysis. But I will not pursue the question of whether terrorism could ever be justifiable. Rather, I will argue that the dominant view’s condemnatory attitude toward terrorism as compared to conventional war cannot be fully sustained. I propose that a version of the argument that terrorists do not have adequate authority to undertake political violence—and not the prominent argument that noncombatants should be immune from deliberate use of force against them—is the most plausible basis for finding terrorism objectionable.

Comment: McPherson challenges the view that there is something distinctively wrong about terrorism as compared to conventional warfare. In addition to a discussion on terrorism it presents challenges to traditional interpretations of just war theory.

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