Chapter

1. War without Morality

David Fisher

in Morality and War

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199599240
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725692 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199599240.003.0002
1. War without Morality

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This chapter critically examines realism—the view that international relations can be explained solely as the pursuit of power. Two kinds of realism are distinguished: all-out and partial realism. All-out realism—denying morality any relevance to war— is traced from Thucydides through Hobbes to the modern era. It offers neither an accurate account of how the world is, still less how it should be, only gaining plausibility by presupposing a simplistic view of morality. The book seeks to develop an alternative more robust framework for moral reasoning. Partial realists concede a role for morality before and after war but deny its relevance during war, when military necessity takes over. Moral reasoning applies, however, universally, to all intentional human activity. There are no moral-free zones not even—pace Michael Walzer—during moments of supreme emergency. If morality applies at all, it applies to all our actions.

Keywords: international relations; moral-free zones; realism; supreme emergency; Hobbes; Thucydides; Michael Walzer

Chapter.  7372 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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