War and Violence

Winter 2015/16 – Proseminar
University of Hamburg

Course Description

This course explores several topics related to the ethics of war and critiques of violence. We begin by examining competing conceptions of violence, including structural and legitimist conceptions of what violence is. We then turn to central topics in contemporary ethics of war, including jus in bello and jus ad bellum requirements, noncombatant immunity and moral asymmetry of combatants, humanitarian intervention, and terrorism. We end with a number of criticisms of war and critiques of violence, including a discussion of pacifism.

As well as regular attendance, students are expected to participate in class discussion, sometimes in small groups, and to complete the weekly assigned reading prior to class. While no prior knowledge is presupposed, because many of the topics  we will examine relate to established theories and concepts drawn from the standard Western philosophical canon, basic knowledge of core debates in ethics and political philosophy will be useful for understanding the material.

Primary Reading

WALZER, M. Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations, 4th ed. (2006)

BUFACCHI, V. (ed) Violence: A Philosophical Anthology, 2009. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Course Materials