This study focuses on conceptual questions that arise when we explore the fundamental aspects of violence. Mark Vorobej teases apart what is meant by the term ‘violence,’ showing that it is a surprisingly complex, unwieldy and highly contested concept. Rather than attempting to develop a fixed definition of violence, Vorobej explores the varied dimensions of the phenomenon of violence and the questions they raise, addressing the criteria of harm, agency, victimhood, instrumentality, and normativity. Vorobej uses this multifaceted understanding of violence to engage with and complicate existing approaches to the essential nature of violence: first, Vorobej explores the liberal tradition that ties violence to the intentional infliction of harm, and that grows out of a concern for protecting individual liberty or autonomy. He goes on to explore a more progressive tradition – one that is usually associated with the political left – that ties violence to the bare occurrence of harm, and that is more concerned with an equitable promotion of human welfare than with the protection of individual liberty. Finally, the book turns to a tradition that operates with a more robust normative characterization of violence as a morally flawed (or forbidden) response to the ontological fact of (human) vulnerability. This nuanced and in-depth study of the nature of violence will be especially relevant to researchers in applied ethics, peace studies and political philosophy.
Table of Contents
Preface. 1. Interpersonal Violence 2. Structural Violence 3. A Hybrid Account
Mark Vorobej is a former Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy, and a former Director of the Centre for Peace Studies at McMaster University. He is the author of A Theory of Argument (Cambridge University Press, 2006) and numerous articles in the areas of logical theory and moral philosophy.