Högre seminarium i praktisk filosofi: Isaac Taylor


Datum: tisdag 21 maj 2024

Tid: 13.15 – 15.00

Plats: D700

Just War Error Theory, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Pacifism


Some of our most firmly held moral beliefs about war are, if a number of prominent philosophers are correct, illusions. The idea that soldiers do no wrong in fighting for an unjust case, for instance, cannot be justified as a correct account of the fundamental moral permissions, rights, and liabilities of individuals. What should members of the armed forces do in light of these claims? Jeff McMahan has argued that combatants should fall back on fundamental moral principles to guide their actions, while Henry Shue has maintained that they should continue to act as if the illusions were real.

In this paper, I make a provisional case for a third option. Drawing on the existing debate, but also recent work in metaethics about the potentially undesirable effects of moralizing conflicts, I suggest that soldiers should foster a qualified skepticism about the morality of participating in any war. This may look very much like a pacifist theory, but I also demonstrate how it can avoid some of the standard objections that are levelled against pacifism.