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|Title: ||A Philosophy of War|
|Authors: ||Moseley, Darran A|
|Supervisor(s): ||Priest, Stephen|
|Issue Date: ||Jun-1997|
|Abstract: ||This thesis examines in four parts a collection of philosophical arguments dealing with war.
The conclusions drawn are that war is a definable and applicable concept, that above the level
of biological reactions war is the result of beliefs, that an objective distinction exists between
aggressive and defensive actions, and that war is only justifiable in the protection of core
The first part analyses competing definitions of war. It is argued that the concept of war is
philosophically appropriate and captures the conceptual common denominator between
particular wars. The essence of war is defined as “a condition of open-ended violence”.
Part Two explores the causal relationships between metaphysical and epistemological beliefs
and war. It is held that war cannot be explained away as an unalterable fact of the universe,
hence deterministic explanations fail in favour of the conclusion that wars are the product of
ideas and ideas are volitionally obtained.
The third part continues an exploration of determinist accounts of war and examines how
various theories of human nature attempt to explain why war occurs. For methodological
purposes human nature is trisected into biological, cultural, and rational aspects. Theories that
attempt to interpret war using only a single aspect are inadequate, for each aspect must
logically presuppose the existence and hence the influence of the others. It is concluded that
human wars are the product of ideas, but ideas are distinguishable between tacit and explicit
forms. Tacit forms of knowledge evolve through social interaction and sometimes have
unintended consequences; war on the cultural level can be the product of human action but not
of human design (Ferguson), hence attempts to abolish war by reason alone are bound to fail.
Part Four assesses the application of ethical and political reasoning to war. It is argued firstly
that morality, in the form of universalisable core rights and socially generated general rules of
conduct, must not be removed from the sphere of war. Secondly it is concluded that the ideal
just government exists to protect rights, from which it will follow that defensive wars and
wars of intervention to protect rights are morally supportable.|
|Appears in Collections:||Philosophy PhD thesis collection|
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