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date: 27 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay considers the role of war in Levinas’s philosophy and his philosophy’s place in the secondary literature on the ethics of war. It is argued that his understanding of war most closely matches just war theory, although it bears similarities as well to pacifist fears about the depersonalization that occurs in war. These comparisons are used to raise concerns about both Levinas’s philosophy and just war theory. Reading just war theory through the lens of his philosophy exposes the inability of just war theory to settle pacifist fears about wartime depersonalization. Conversely, reading Levinas through the lens of this debate reinforces the worry that there may be an unbridgeable gap between ethics and justice in his philosophy.

Keywords: Levinas, war, just war theory, realism, pacifism, depersonalization

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