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Georgetown University


Detailed Course Information


Fall 2017
Oct 18, 2018
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PHIL 113 - Just Wars
When is it right for a nation to go to war? Once at war, what sort of behavior becomes permissible for soldiers and commanders? And what obligations do soldiers, sovereigns and states have in the aftermath of wars? Throughout the semester, we will tackle these questions (and many tangential and subsidiary ones) through the lens of contemporary just wary theory.

We'll begin with a brief unit situating the just war tradition among other historically prominent perspectives on war—realism, pacifism, militarism and crusadism. We will subsequently turn our attention to issues of jus ad bellum, or moral issues surrounding the initiation of war. Subtopics will include aggression, preemptions, preventive wars, interventions, secessions, reprisals. We shall then turn our focus to conduct within war (jus in bello), and take a close look at the Doctrine of Double Effect, noncombatant immunity, the moral responsibility of soldiers fighting unjust wars, and conditions of "supreme emergency". Finally, we’ll discuss a recently popular movement in just war theory that focus on justice in the conclusion of war (jus post bellum).

While our readings will come primarily from contemporary western just war theory, we will also examine the historical roots of the western just war tradition, as well as the ethics of war in other cultures. In our final unit, we will briefly explore the Islamic, Jewish and Chinese traditions of just war. 

3.000 Credit hours
3.000 Lecture hours
0.000 Lab hours

Levels: Undergraduate
Schedule Types: Lecture, Seminar

Philosophy Department

Course Attributes:
SFS/CULP Social Science, SFS/IPOL International Law, SFS/IPOL Security Studies

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