Taking War Seriously

Philosophy 94 (1):139-60 (2019)
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Abstract
Just war theory − as advanced by Michael Walzer, among others − fails to take war seriously enough. This is because it proposes that we regulate war with systematic rules that are comparable to those of a game. Three types of claims are advanced. The first is phenomenological: that the theory's abstract nature interferes with our judgment of what is, and should be, going on. The second is meta-ethical: that the theory's rules are not, in fact, systematic after all, there being inherent contradictions between them. And the third is practical: that by getting people to view war as like a game, the theory promotes its ‘aestheticization’ (play being a central mode of the aesthetic) such that those who fight are encouraged to act in dangerous ways. And war, it goes without saying, is already dangerous enough.
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Archival date: 2019-02-01
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