Read Michael Kulzer (sp?) Why was wwii different? Ethics of War Wednesday, January 23, 2008

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Read Michael Kulzer (sp?) Why was WWII different?
Ethics of War - Wednesday, January 23, 2008
How do we define War?

  • shapes what it means normatively

Amorality Controversy

  • surrounds claim whether war is good or bad

  • can’t invoke moral reasons

  • forces us to ask: “what kind of terms can we use to talk about war?”


  • Characterization of killing of innocents

  • Can be argued that war is equivalent to murder

Cause of War

  • claim that if cause is just, then war is just

Morality of war vs. various moral claims we can make once war has begun

5) Are people on our side special?

Equal human beings have equal moral consideration

We consider our side more important and justify killing others, not our own
Definitions of War

Most prevalent view:

1) Orren claims that war is public policy, extension of legislative action; particular kind where the use of violence is to further our ends. Kind of policy that is legislated, self-conscious and involves violence.

2) Barbara Cohen: war is break-down of rule-based relations or civil relations between states; not anarchy but losing of bearing.

3) War is Hell; antithesis of law and rules; violence and killing and all the horror they imply

4) Conflict solely between states

5) the elimination of something with use of force
What difference does it make what definition one takes?

1)Public Policy

  • If we vote on it, it confers democratic legitimacy and therefore we can consider it moral

  • Policy comes institutions which leads to break down; war might be solution to break down

  • If individuals have consented to it, there may be morally salient reason to go to war

  • Looks rational and leads to more reasons; without rationales

2) Civil relations break down

- loss of agency, seems passive and natural (may be precursor to war); break down doesn’t give you reasons; some people want it out of policy to disregard aberrations

3) War is the antithesis of law

- in favor of anti-war positions; subtract the ability to talk about causes, interests;

- if defined this war, can’t come up with rules and laws of war

- handy definition for those who want to argue against war and those involved

- distinctions are rule-based

- can’t invoke something like democracy here

- moral implications before the war: everything before could be justified as moral since we want to avoid war as hell
Stanford Definition: war between nation-states and nothing else; by calling it conflict between nation-states, eliminate types of wars such as civil wars, ethnic cleansings, revolutions, guerilla warfares where groups aren’t associated with political groups
What is the importance of including the state?
Nations: collection of people

State: government run borders


Morality can’t even be discussed when it comes to war

  • Need to see that war is necessary, not an issue of morality

  • Morality doesn’t enter into the question when interests are considered

  • Ignore the issue of morality

  • Realist says that morality is not what the issue is

  • So obscene since it involves killing of innocents and tarnishes discussion of morality

  • Realist: war is power play and never go to war for moral reasons just for self-interest and survival

  • While the two are not wrong, not really amoral

  • Realist might be making moral claim himself

  • For realist, self-interest is non-moral value

Wars are amoral because made by states, not individuals

States don’t have moral intentions

Democracies tend to have states more susceptible to moral charges

All Wars are Immoral

All wars violate their right to life

All wars involve killing (sometimes justified); therefore, has to be unjustified or killing of innocents which is equated with murder which is wrong by nature and then, therefore, war is wrong since murder is wrong.

Need to think of the number of innocent civilians we’re saving but then what if we’re killing innocent civilians in order to save others

Self-defense Positions

Unintended consequences

Direct consequences when you know people are going to die
Who are the innocent?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Is all murder because necessitates killing of innocents?

Moral vs. amoral?

Who is an innocent?

What role does consent play?

If all consent to war, can’t be viewed as murder.
Why is WWII different?  War might be murder but there are some cases where rules might be broken.
Even if war is murder, murder is justified.
Dstinguishing between justice of war (the cause) and justice in war (the ethical nature of tactics)
Klaussewitz’s notion: Sherman’s idea that anything goes into the war; war is hell
First place we should look to as cause of war: elimination of evil

Can fight a war if it’s to eliminate evil apart from self-defence

Walzer is trying to have it both ways: we are killing innocents but it’s justified because we’re eliminating evil AND rules are not absolute

Walzer has a rule that is steadfast but it can be broken  therefore, what happens to the rule

War as Murder

Intentional killing of the innocent

Is there anyway that saying war isn’t murder?

Implicated individuals – people are involved in economy and are empowering military (tacit guilt)

Despite killing of innocents, we’re saving more innocent lives  Justified killing

By not intervening, responsible for many more deaths: choice is between killing or let die

Murder is a means to an end;

Difference between killing innocent on purpose

Omissions vs. actions
Who can be construed as innocents?


Those against the war
Implicated or not implicated:

Soldiers are carrying out the war and if you don’t kill them ( in self-defence), you will be killed yourself so does not equal murder

Children innocent  implicated if seen as resources of nation

If you adhere to a nation-state, then you are part of a nation-state that is at war and therefore you are implicitly implicated ( John Locke, Treaty II)

Are you identifying people as individuals or members of nation-state?

If you are completely not implicated, can be viewed as murder

If everyone’s implicated, then might be viewed as justified

If you haven’t consented are you part of the enemy?

What is consent:

Locke’s second treatise  if you benefit from nation’s services, you have tacitly consented to nation and are subject to its conflicts

If you consent, you give up the right to life


Paid soldiers

Protesters/ anti-war activists

Those who are drafted but against war are not any more innocent

Those who need to be a soldier for economic reasons

What is the relevance of knowing that the war is right?

People believing may be abetting in the war

Might care because of assumption that if they believe it, they’re abetting the war but if they don’t, they’re frustrating the effort
Clausewitz’ War as limitless violence

Anything that is limited is accepted  wont be able to make Walzer’s distinctions

Causes of War:

Aggressive War to End Evil (WWII: Nazis would have destroyed human beings and, maybe, civilization)

Self-defense: might involve pre-emption which looks aggressive.

What is the deal with self-defense that makes it more justifiable?

Walzer – appeasement is alternative to going to war
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
1) Reasons to go to war vs. tactics in war

2) Claim that “If a war is justified, anything goes in the war.”

- If the ends are justified, then the means are justified

- Moral system such that anything that helps “our” side is acceptable

- war is awful and anything that makes the war shorter is justified ( more of an evaluation of the means)

Reasons War might be justified (pertaining to ends)

- Self-defense

- Wars of aggression always wrongs and self-defense is strongest argument to justify war

- Defend yourself against threats, violence, future acts of violence?

- Controversy over who is being defended: nation-states or individuals?

What’s Wrong with Aggression?

- assumption that war is wrong and necessary evil

- violation of others’ rights

- depriving others of their consent

- lack of positive justification  what about humanitarian justification

- starting war is a lot worse than second step: allows individuals who are being aggressive to blame someone else; intervening to stop what others are doing

- Intervening on behalf of human rights is still aggression

How is self-defense justifiable?

- haven’t started it  you’re reacting

- you’re saving yourself

- you’re not determining the situation, they are

- lose moral responsibility when you’re on the defensive  you’ve been given the choices and other side is morally respsonsible for giving you the choices

- still need scenario where nothing else is possible

- moral responsibility may not be completely distinguished

- Walzer’s Reasons:

1) didn’t get to choose

2) Rights are being violated, you’re not violating others since they’ve already made aggressive

3) You’re preserving your life

- As legal model, self-defense is secondary goal  primary goal is not to kill someone but to stay alive

Walzer’s Justifiable Reasons to self-defense

1) Manifest intent to injure

2) Degree of active preparation to make intent in question a positive danger

3) General situation in which waiting greatly manifests the risks (doing nothing is too risky and it’s better to defend)  can’t really asses the risk beyond particular cases ; if risk analysis is so impossible, then self-defense plea might be hard

What doesn’t work: a threat that isn’t imminent since you can wait; risk is hard assess; if start preparing for threat, you might look like aggressor; an attack is also not very self-evident (embargo = attack?); what constitutes self-defense preemptively and later down the road; where do allies come into view
Who is the self/ are states same as individuals?

  • What is it about community: is it divided or unified?

  • If representative doesn’t represent all individuals or if there is no consent.

  • Legitimacy of government

  • Limit of analogy: states can’t be literally be killed

  • Government overthrown? What about territories?

  • Entities that could die: democracy and freedom;

  • States are constantly changing and therefore can’t be like individuals

  • If you can’t come up with essentialist definitions, doesn’t mean we can’t talk about self- defense

  • Essentialists require links between state and individuals to talk about self-defense

  • If whole point of war is to defend state as a group of individuals, then good shape because state is just individual multiplied

Eliminating evil

  • Realized killing innocents but trying to save civilization

  • There has to be no other options

  • Had to resist evil of Nazi ideology – different here because ideology that deprived certain groups of life  killing is not used as means to an end but an end itself ; way of life could be fundamently different

  • World War II is spacial case

  • Alternative was appeasement: to judge decision to go to war was to look at reasons not to (appeasement)

  • Nazi is inherently expansionist

  • Appeasement is controversial

  • Does not define evil very well but assumes that there is nothing worse than evil

  • Walzer wants to say that evil is worse than injustice

  • Evil refers to ideology, not the people

Difference between killing and death

Utilitarian: no difference between killing and death  both end up dead

Deontologists (focus of the actions themselves as opposed to the consequences): fact that you do the killing makes it worse; somebody died and somebody got killed and I did it
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Preeventive vs. Preemptive War

Prospect of an attack for both but timeline differs: preemptive war usually immediate

Any war that might destroy you and you prevent

Almost all philosopher construe preventive war as unjustified with some as acceptable

Terrorism: makes a difference when discussing the issue: terrorists don’t constitute an entity or state + don’t use conventional warfare  idea that defense is more necessary because their attack means defense might then be too late; speed of attack and lack of intelligence; difficult as well to assess legitimacy of threat and how prepared they are; terrorists aren’t deterred in the same way; can’t always tell the difference between civilians and terrorists
Why would anyone justify preventive and preemptive war?

  1. Self-defense

  2. Utilitarian view: fewer people will die if you don’t wage the war ( save as many lives as you can)

Need enough evidence to verify coming attack

Risk Analysis
Preemptive War Easiest to Defend
Prevent war justified

Crawford: Truly in self-defense when self is narrowly defined, i.e. that being physical existence and not including national interests, moral principles (liberty, equality, etc.); What about food, water, shelter (pg 32.)?

Only if they lead to reproduction of individuals in place;

1) Wants to exclude anything that leads to aggression

2) Needs to be PROOF of imminent attack

3) Preventive war has to reduce the threat and (4) have to do so in a way that military force is necessary
What does she mean by existence? Existence as a human being – wants the bare minimum. Is she justified in narrow conception?

Doesn’t talk about survival of community that may include religion or culture, starting point that limits a lot of justified preventive attacks; she should have talked about identity that is spiritual --- more robust and leads to preemptiveness; surviving physically is the very least that we need for everything else and we can’t get it back; other things (like religion) we can’t get back

What if there isn’t a preventive war?

Why is it more difficult to defend preventive war? It is a potential event that may not ever occur (not the same as future event); it may not necessarily be evidence-based ; danger is uncertain; may lead to justification of other aggressive acts and violation of human rights
Iraq: tyrannical country that

Evidence is the difference

Agression may not even be viewed as such if the state is not legitimate or they are violating human rights

Difficult to say that country is illegitimate but easier to say that they violate human rights

A lot of these arguments come down to how evil the opposition is ( like Walzer argued with WWII )
Iran and case of preventive war?

  • Regime change

  • Destroy reactor

Back-firing effects of prevention

Quantitative  time


Preemptive war is also preventative; if preemption war is anything but in the present, it is preventative


One way, is an endless war that can’t be stopped

Good terrorist don’[t tell people where they are and when they attack

If you can’t get evidence from terrorism, then issue becomes problematic

What’s the deal with human rights?
Monday, February 11, 2008

Jordy Rocheleau:

Even when preventable war is not justifiable in general, (1) rogue states and (2) international sanctions are two exceptions

Are these good exceptions?
Rogue States

- Not so much what particular state has done but identity of rogue states

- Bush claims that rogue states are justification for preventive war

- David Lubin defends preventive wars; projectory of rogue states makes it an imminent attacker; rogue state for him assumes that it is going to attack  can’t demonstrate it empirically but empiralistic matter ; p189,

- Bush’s definition: brutalizes own people, disregards international law, against US

Why dealing with rogue states?

  • questions of boundaries and sovereignty drops out

  • for rogue states, boundaries aren’t legitimate and then we can intervene

  • in terms of international law, going to be hard to decide which boundaries count and which don’t

  • Don’t have to worry about violating boundaries of unjust states

  • Definition of rogue is made by intervening party  can we have international standard of rogue state?

Is rogue state an awful, evil state or is it distinct from what Walzer describes?

  • Distinct from evil, more off balance that needs to be set right

  • They are independent; not conforming to the “rules” that tend to be international laws rather than good or evil

  • Rogue states can theoretically be put back on the right track

  • Less of moral condemnation but break down of rules  rogue states try to change the rules;

  • Connotes unpredictability and anarchy (preventive war might not work so well)

Morality in regards to rogue states?

Danger in invoking idea of rogue state?

  • Yes, if the idea is malleable (e.g. George W. Bush’s inclusion of a rogue state hating the US)

  • Also, idea is discriminatory and may be relative to powerful nations

  • Invokes identity claim and not criteria  more than just shifting criteria

  • Saying the North Korea is rogue and not that it may attack us: making assumption that it does actions that are associated with rogue states and turns actions into evil moral agent  unifying notion that allows people to argue that anything that goes on there is wrong ; whatever it does is because it is a rogue state

  • Used because you can argue for preventive war and still make exception


  • actions are done as part of larger organization and legitimatized

  • if you go on your own, no accountability  actions won’t be seen as selfish if you act with others

  • International law provides legitimacy from higher body; legitimacy claims between you and those who believe what you are doing is right

  • Utilitarian claim associated with legitimacy

      • If you’r not rogue, you’re legitimate and actions can be approved

      • Utility doesn’t normally count because it’s not high enough in position of morality

      • International law is not legitimate if you deal with utilitarian defense of legitimacy

      • Rawles get away from utilitarian sense of legitimacy  he substitutes legitimacy with justice

      • Once you place law on utility, legitimacy is up for grabs

  • anyone can be wrong, so if people believe an idea , doesn’t make it “right”

  • limitiations in regards to law


Political philosopher: to be legitimate, can offer good reasons for actions to an audience that may accept these reasons

  • Controversial points  what is a good audience and what are good reasons?

  • Good reasons given for legitimacy: social contract/consent; state legitimate if everyone consents to be part of states

  • MLK: based everything on natural law

Legitimacy normally viewed as: justice, natural law, or rights,


Nonutiliatarian, usually objective look

Agreement that aggression cannot but justified for war

IS there a difference between aggression and humanitarian aggression?

Walzer’s three conditions for acceptable intervention:

  1. a particular set of boundaries contain two sets of communities with one already engaged in act of independence; two different groups in boundaries, one of which asks for our helps

  2. when one outside group/country has already intervened on behalf of the warring group inside the boundaries

  3. extreme violation of human rights


- Walzer: humanitarian intervention not same as aggression

- Can talk about intervention as not aggression because we are intervening to counter aggression that has already taken place

- Cynical view he gets around: when you intervene, starting from step one  doesn’t matter if you’re countering someone else’s aggression, you are still being aggressive

- Walzer: if things are so extraordinarily bad, then we can intervene

Problems with nation states intervening is that they have so many different interests

Reasons not to intervene

Walzer: generally shouldn’t intervene because staes have rights to self-determination  should make all decisions in terms of solving all own problems; don’t intervene because of identity and own problems;

Boundaries are very important for Walzer

Where does right to self-determination come from: Mill had the analogy self-creating ideology; sovereignty over one’s self being applied to nation state; self-determination, however, is liberal right that is not transferable

Rights: natural rights vs. described rights (from society)

  1. in terms of states, good to have right to self-determination because there are better results and have states that people want within the boundaries

  2. What difference does it make that

  3. Hard to come up with natural right theory for self-determination

  4. For states, can describe self-determination in terms of states

Mill: individuals have soverienty over themselves (he applied state model to reorient individuals); individuals can choose better for themselves and when other choose for you, set up domination and great deal of power

Exceptions when intervening is justified

  1. Politcal communities when one is engaged in military struggle for independence

    1. Can intervene if you’re effective and don’t kill many people

    2. This is justified because it seems that you are not uninvited and consent may be seen as coming from the country where you’re intervening

    3. No unified countries and therefore not everyone is contracted; no “self” in self-determination

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Walzer’s Argument against intervention

In terms of (1) social contract

  • right to self-determination: usually come with social contract to get particular community which then creates social contract (chick and egg dilemma)

  • blanket statement against intervention and uses social contract descriptively

(2) Nature of political community

- right to self- determination on what makes good political community made up of members whose identity is based on making rules for community; to be a member, have a say in what community looks like

- This is ground to right self-determination

Walzer’s Exceptions

  1. when boundaries contain two types of conflicting people, one of which is rebelling

  2. when another country has already intervened

  3. violation of human rights is just so terrible

Dealing with (2)

  • equivalent to defending nation-state against aggressor

  • applies right to self-determination elsewhere

  • intervening is supporting principle to deny intervention in general; right to sovereignty is not threatened  already broken down

  • permissible claim: reinstating a sovereign state doesn’t clarify where the duty is whereas (3) seems more of a duty

Dealing with (3)

  • unconscious able to stand by and let people suffer

  • utilitarian claim: more people are going to die if you don’t intervene

  • people’s moral sensibilities: can people really stomach destruction without doing anything

  • doesn’t make this claim but also idea that condition is so bad that intervening wont make anything worse

  • different because of its direct appeal to morality

  • no counter-argument could arguably work

  • doing nothing may be viewed as worse

  • need to show what is terrible  since Walzer’s theory begins with self-determination, he can show that right to self-determination is not possible with all these things happening  if you’re killing people, they can’t self-determine themselves

Human Rights

  • As part of exception (3), Walzer includes the term “human rights” and its gross violation

Richard Norman

  • argues that there are no natural rights; rights are not to be discovered but stipulated or described

  • rights are bound by boundaries of political community or state

  • Question isn’t if our rights are being violated but should individuals have them in the first place

  • Without rights, they are not being violated in the first place

  • Political community that has no stipulate rights and no natural rights, no basis for intervention and Walzer’s claims don’t work

  • Human rights come in two flavors: positive (State has to guarantee something – food, shelter, etc. ) and negative (actions of the states perform violation that take away rights)

  • If individuals don’t have natural rights, state don’t either

  • Would make us think that there’s nothing wrong with intervention BUT claims that while we can intervene to protect human rights, can’t do so militarily because there are no rights to restore AND itself is a violation of human rights

Analysis of Norman

  • skeptical of societal interpretation of human rights, e.g. UN’s right to leisure

  • Why no natural rights? Rights have a history and evolve in a particular context where you need to protect individual’s body or property  no natural context and politically constructed

  • Natural rights were not discovered

  • Counter: rights are natural because if we don’t have them, can’t function as human beings

  • Do you need a right to manifest these necessities? Are the rights just protections?

  • May go to far in saying that if can’t prove human rights are natural, can’t intervene in favor of them

  • Natural fact that can study in body AND natural being necessity, survivability even though we can’t discover  might have come up with latter without debunking everything

  • Idea that if society is natural, then rights are natural  Norman doesn’t take this position into consideration; could be argued against by saying that society isn’t natural

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