Privatizing War: A Moral Theory, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Privatizing War

A Moral Theory, 1st Edition

By William Feldman


190 pages

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Hardback: 9781138803954
pub: 2016-06-20
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pub: 2016-06-17
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This book offers a comprehensive moral theory of privatization in war.

It examines the kind of wars that private actors might wage separate from the state and the kind of wars that private actors might wage as functionaries of the state. The first type of war serves to probe the ad bellum question of whether private actors can justifiably authorize war, while the second type of war serves to probe the in bello question of whether private actors can justifiably participate in war. The cases that drive the analysis are drawn from the rich and complicated history of private military action, stretching back centuries to the Italian city-states whose mercenaries were reviled by Machiavelli. The book also takes up the hypothetical examples conjured by philosophers—the private protective agencies of Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia, for example, and the private armies of Thomas More’s Utopia. The aim of this book is to propose a theory of privatization that retains currency not only in assessing current military engagements, but past and future ones as well. In doing so, it also raises a set of important questions about the very enterprise of war.

This book will be of much interest to students of ethics, political philosophy, military studies, international relations, war and conflict studies, and security studies.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction


2. Legitimate Authority and the Monopolization of War

3. All Affected Fundamental Interests

4. The Risk-Imposition of War


5. Governance

6. Punishment

7. Control

8. Challenges

9. Conclusion

About the Author

William Brand Feldman has a DPhil. in Politics from the University of Oxford and is a resident physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.

About the Series

War, Conflict and Ethics

Ethical judgments are relevant to all phases of protracted violent conflict and inter-state war. Before, during, and after the tumult, martial forces are guided, in part, by their sense of morality for assessing whether an action is (morally) right or wrong, an event has good and/or bad consequences, and an individual (or group) is inherently virtuous or evil. This new book series focuses on the morality of decisions by military and political leaders to engage in violence and the normative underpinnings of military strategy and tactics in the prosecution of the war.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
HISTORY / Military / Iraq War (2003-)
PHILOSOPHY / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / International Security