The Concept of Violence  book cover
1st Edition

The Concept of Violence

ISBN 9780367361556
Published September 5, 2019 by Routledge
216 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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

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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.


"This is a masterful analysis of the debate over how violence should be understood, along with the author’s justification of a far more precise and logical definition of the concept. A persuasive analysis of exceptional skill and elegance, the book should be read by everyone concerned about limiting the tragic effects of violence in our lives." — Robert Paul Churchill, George Washington University, USA

"The strength of Vorobej's proposal obviously lies in its broad scope, which is meant to capture as many heterogeneous cases of violence as possible ... [His] detailed discussion of criteria and cases does more than just introduce a definitional approach to violence by presenting fundamental theoretical and practical questions about it." — Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews