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Just War Theory


Admission requirements

Bachelor in Philosophy, Bachelor in Law, or equivalent degree


When is it right to go to war? Once at war, what sort of behavior becomes permissible for commanders and combatants? And what obligations do combatants, and states have in the aftermath of wars? Throughout the semester, we will tackle these questions through the lens of contemporary just wary theory.

We will begin with situating the just war tradition among two other historically prominent perspectives on war—realism and pacifism. Subsequently, we will turn our attention to moral issues underlying the initiation of war (jus ad bellum). Subtopics will include interventions, and punitive wars. We shall then turn our focus to conduct within war (jus in bello), and take a close look at the principle of noncombatant immunity, the principle of proportionality, and the moral responsibility of combatants fighting unjust wars. Upon concluding this part of the course, we’ll discuss a recently popular movement in just war theory that focus on justice in the conclusion of war (jus post bellum).

We will examine contemporary western just war theory and the historical roots of the western just war tradition. Furthermore, we will study the ethics of war in one of the other cultures (e.g. the Islamic Just War tradition). In our final meetings, we will briefly explore some special topics in contemporary Just War Theory, as for example cyber warfare and Private Military Contractors.

Course objectives

Course objectives will be posted on Blackboard by the start of the course.


See Collegeroosters Wijsbegeerte 2012-2013, MA Philosophy.
See Timetables Philosophy 2012-2013, MA Philosophy.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Assessment method

  • Presentation in class

  • Class participation

  • Final paper



Reading list

To be announced


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Contact information

Hadassa Noorda


This course replaces the earlier announced course on Human Rights.