Morality and War

Paul Schulte

in The Oxford Handbook of War

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199562930
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

Morality and War


Three major moral positions recur, resting on far-reaching disagreements over the consequences of renouncing war. The mix and relative intensity of such convictions among populations is a major determinant of national strategic culture (NSC), ‘a distinctive body of beliefs, attitudes and practices regarding the use of force’ arising from historical experience and geopolitical setting, and imposing boundaries (though often imprecise or long term—and more flexible over covert operations) to the moral decisions that a nation can tolerate in conflict. NSCs condition national appetites for strategic risk, and capacities to deter, reassure, or intervene. They can change profoundly if different moral positions gain electoral importance, straining alliances when change occurs unevenly between members.

Keywords: morality; war; national strategic culture; moral decision; strategic risk; electoral importance

Article.  6672 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations

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