1st Edition

The Ethics of War and the Force of Law A Modern Just War Theory

By Uwe Steinhoff Copyright 2021
    336 Pages
    by Routledge

    336 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book provides a thorough critical overview of the current debate on the ethics of war, as well as a modern just war theory that can give practical action-guidance by recognizing and explaining the moral force of widely accepted law.

    Traditionalist, Walzerian, and "revisionist" approaches have dominated contemporary debates about the classical jus ad bellum and jus in bello requirements in just war theory. In this book, Uwe Steinhoff corrects widely spread misinterpretations of these competing views and spells out the implications for the ethics of war. His approach is unique in that it complements the usual analysis in terms of self-defense with an emphasis on the importance of other justifications that are often lumped together under the heading of "lesser evil." It also draws on criminal law and legal scholarship, which has been largely ignored by just war theorists. Ultimately, Steinhoff rejects arguments in favor of "moral fundamentalism"— the view that the laws and customs of war must simply follow an immutable morality. In contrast, he argues that widely accepted laws and conventions of war are partly constitutive of the moral rules that apply in a conflict.

    The Ethics of War and the Force of Law will be of interest to scholars and advanced students working in just war theory, applied ethics, political philosophy, political theory, philosophy of law, and criminal and military law.

    1. Introduction and Overview

    2. What Is War—and Can a Lone Individual Wage One?

    3. Jus ad Bellum: Justifying the Use of War

    4. Jus in Bello: Justifying the Use of Force in War

    5. Concluding Remarks


    Uwe Steinhoff is Professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Hong Kong. He is the author of On the Ethics of War and Terrorism (2007), The Philosophy of Jürgen Habermas (2009), On the Ethics of Torture (2013), and Self-Defense, Necessity, and Punishment (Routledge, 2019), and the editor of Do All Persons Have Equal Moral Worth? (2015).

    "I commend Steinhoff’s approach of engaging all the disparate literatures and proposing a practical approach to just war. That is an uncommon but welcome path to have taken, and Steinhoff is one of the few conversant enough to pull this off."Joseph E. Capizzi, The Catholic University of America

    "Steinhoff’s book is not only analytically strong but also displays a thorough knowledge of the historical and legal dimensions of the Just War tradition and, importantly, utilizes this knowledge in the development of his own distinctive account. The result is a much-needed integration of philosophical analysis and legal scholarship." – Seumas Miller, Charles Sturt University, TU Delft and Oxford University