Prospectus

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Ethics of Contemporary Warfare

Course 2016-2017

Tags

WP

Admissions requirements

Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies.

Description

This module will explore the moral and ethical issues raised by contemporary warfare. In the first part of the course, students will be introduced to the dominant Western frameworks for moral reasoning about the use of force in world politics: pacifism, realism, and the just war tradition. The course will explore the historical and religious roots of these traditions, and the major streams of thinking within them. In the second and third parts of the course, we will focus on the just war tradition, applying its concepts and principles to a range of important issues in contemporary warfare that present challenges to the just war tradition as it is conventionally formulated. These will include jus ad bellum questions about non-state actors and anticipatory war; jus in bello questions about targeted killing and supreme emergencies; and jus post bellum questions about post-conflict responsibilities. These issues will be explored through case studies drawn from recent conflicts, especially the US-led War on Terror. Students will be encouraged to think about whether the traditions of ethical reasoning about war inherited from earlier generations remain adequate to guide our judgment of contemporary warfare, or whether they need to be revised.

Course objectives

This module aims to provide a critical exploration of major ethical issues in contemporary warfare in light of the primary Western traditions of moral thinking about war. By the end of the module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a thorough understanding of the different theoretical approaches employed in the ethics of war – i.e., realism, pacifism, and just war – and their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Describe and problematize the central principles associated with the just war tradition.
  • Analyse historical and contemporary cases in the light of just war principles.
  • Discuss the continuing value (or otherwise) of the just war tradition in the context of contemporary warfare.
  • Demonstrate appropriate cognitive, communicative and transferable skills; develop the capacity for independent learning, critique major texts and approaches and lead class discussions.

Timetable

Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course is taught through two-hour seminars. Students will be expected to participate in both large and small group discussions; present and defend their ideas within an academic setting; and take part in group projects. The instructor will facilitate and ensure the efficient running of the discussion, but students are responsible for shaping its direction. Each seminar has a ‘required reading’ list that must be read in advance of each seminar. Students are also recommended to read some of the items listed under ‘suggested reading’ prior to each seminar and use the extended list as a starting point in their preparation for essay writing.

Assessment

Seminar participation: 15% (ongoing)
Group presentation/debate exercise: 20% (ongoing, weeks 5-7)
Book review: 25% (1000 words; week 4)
Final Essay: 40% (3000 words; week 8)

Blackboard

There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, 4th edition (NY: Basic Books, 2006) will be the core text for the course. This is a mandatory purchase. Alex Bellamy, Just Wars: From Cicero to Iraq (Cambridge: Polity, 2006) is also highly recommended.

Registration

This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact course.administration@luc.leidenuniv.nl.

Contact

Dr Edmund Frettingham, e.j.frettingham@luc.leidenuniv.nl.