Friday, June 17, 2005

A defense of moral realism in just war theory by David C. Hendrickson

David C. Hendrickson offers a sophisticated defense of moral realism in just war theory - taking on Walzer and others who criticize realism as essentially merely prudential. The title is "In Defense of Realism: A Commentary on Just and Unjust Wars," and this is the abstract:

"A significant portion of Walzer's Just and Unjust Wars is an argument "against realism." While Hendrickson applauds Walzer for his examination of the just war tradition, he nevertheless asserts that Walzer has characterized the tradition of political realism in a misleading way. Not simply the moral atheism it is portrayed to be, realism recognizes the moral reality of war while emphasizing state security and independence as the most important factors for the protection of citizens and the continuity of the political community. Indeed, Hendrickson identifies many realist aspects of Walzer's own moral arguments. He takes issue, however, with Walzer's treatment of intervention, self-determination, and the legitimate aims of war, stating that Walzer's framework is exceedingly permissive and ambiguous in these areas. Hendrickson concludes that the use of such a just war theory may lead to significant problems in the post-Cold War world."

The article is from Ethics and International Affairs, Vol. 11, 1997, a symposium on Walzer's Just and Unjust Wars with many interesting articles. The link gives only the abstract; there is a $5 article charge.

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