Philosophies of War and Conflict (Special Subject)

This course will examine some of the core philosophical questions raised by warfare and conflict. We will look at the ethics of war and killing, but also at more neglected philosophical issues in this area, and non-Westernapproaches as well as classic texts in the Western tradition.

We will do so by examining some of the central dilemmas faced by soldiers, policy makers and non-combatants, in the form of a weekly question for discussion. These questions include: Can war be beautiful? When, if ever, should we go to war? What counts as legitimate action in war? What, if anything, do we owe to our enemies? Is soldiering a good life? What does technological development mean for warfare? What should a responsible citizen do when their country is, or looks about to be, at war? Who has the epistemic authority to speak about war? Is war always tragic?

Every year the department runs several Special Subject modules in philosophy, in which students engage in depth with research topics chosen by individual members of staff. These modules offer an opportunity to work on cutting edge philosophy, in a small group, under the guidance of a subject expert. They are open both to final-year undergraduate students and to MA students (under different codes for administrative purposes).

Special Subject classes are run as seminars or reading groups: the tutor convenes the group, sets reading, and guides discussion, but does not lecture; students are expected to be active, selfdirected, and well-prepared participants.

Depending on student numbers and timetables, MA students may either take seminars with undergraduates or in their own separate groups. MA students also have their own, further meetings with the module tutor.MA students' assessed work for this module will be marked at the appropriate level, distinct from and higher than undergraduates' assessed work, and requiring a greater degree of depth, independence, and knowledge of the appropriate philosophical literature. Guidance will be provided.

Select Bibliography

Behaviour, (Hoover, 1993)