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date: 05 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Michael Walzer’s Just and Unjust Wars remains the standard account of just war theory despite the criticism it has received. Much of that criticism denies the political character of just war discourse by substituting general moral principles for principles generated in reflecting on the use of military force. It challenges Walzer’s view of the relationship between morality and politics and his conclusions about the moral standing of states, the moral equality of soldiers, the moral basis of humanitarian intervention, and the limits of morality in emergencies. Instead of providing a foundational argument, the book reconstructs a tradition of discourse that transcends particular contexts because of the range of historical experience on which it draws. The critics raise genuine issues but their objections do not undermine the book’s argument. That argument stands in a complex relationship with political realism, which it rejects in some ways and embraces in others.

Keywords: Just and Unjust Wars, Michael Walzer, just war, moral standing of states, humanitarian intervention, moral equality of soldiers, emergency, political realism

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