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221. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Shawn Kaplan Just War Theory: What Is It Good For?
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The usefulness of Just War Theory (JWT) has been called into question in recent years for two key reasons. First, military conflicts today less frequently fit the model traditionally assumed by JWT of interstate wars between regular armies. Second, there is a perception that JWT has lost its critical edge after its categories and principles have been co-opted by bellicose political leaders. This paper critically examines two responses to these concerns which shift the locus of responsibility for wars towards either individual citizens or soldiers. Both attempts to revitalize JWT rely upon idealized conditions which preclude their pragmatic employment. I propose that, in order to arrive at a non-idealized JWT that individuals can apply in a critical fashion, an alternative focus upon a more basic question of political philosophy is required: Under what conditions, if any, are individual soldiers or citizens politically obligated to fight for their state?
222. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Ovadia Ezra Military and Civil Reasons For Just Behavior in War
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US foreign policy became one of the most popular issues in public and academic discussions, particularly since George W. Bush was elected president. A lot has been said about the negative effects that the Bush administration had on the world's international relations and peace, mainly with regard to the restraints which are required by jus ad bellum. However, not much has been said about the damage that the Bush administration caused to the norms of jus in bello, by ignoring them or turning a blind eye toward their violations. In this paper, I want to recall a few military and civil reasons which have been neglected for following the requirements of jus in bello by the fighting soldiers and the fighting unit, as well as by the belligerent state.
223. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Ralph D. Ellis The Snake That Eats Itself: Increasing Contradictions Between Globalization and Nation-state Warfare
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As globalized corporations are traded intemationally, with investors and workers from many countries, nation-states have diminishing interest in fighting wars promoting competitive profit interests of intemational companies. Theoretically, this trend could prompt diminution in the role of warfare. Militarism continues to serve corporations that are globally owned, operated, and controlled, fought by the very workers who then must compete against the resulting unregulated and often cormpt intemational labor and resource markets—driving down the real wages of domestic and foreign workers. But if philosophical attitudes eventually catch up with the new thinking about wars that are fought in the context of such complete globalization of labor and resource markets, it seems inevitable that voters will understand that the interests of the people within nation-states no longer coincide with any one global corporation any more than with any other—reducing incentives to sacrifice national blood and treasure defending the interests of nationless entities.
224. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Jordy Rocheleau Against Small Interventions On Sliding Scale Grounds
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The 2011 NATO intervention in Libya has been hailed as a successful humanitarian intervention, beginning the implementation of the United Nations' Responsibility to Protect. Yet when the intervention pursued a mission of regime change which was not necessary to halt an imminent catastrophe, it became dubious on the strict reading of just cause that has been influential in just war theory. However, a recent trend suggests that minor uses of force with small cost to benefit ratios can be justified by a lower threshold of harm, so long as the cause is prima facie just or force is directed at an illegitimate illiberal state. This paper rejects these arguments by arguing that both deontological principle and utilitarian considerations support maintaining a strict catastrophic harm threshold for intervention.
225. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
David K. Chan Moral Reasoning and Decisions on the Ground
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In this paper, I examine the difference between decision-making by soldiers and commanders, compared with leaders of the nation. Decision-makingin the armed forces is prudential reasoning concerned with the best means to achieve given military objectives. I argue that those in the military cannot rationally make the moral choice to risk the lives of their own soldiers or jeopardize their mission in order to protect the lives of enemy civilians. This does not vindicate the realists who deny that morality applies to war. Moral constraints set out in war conventions foster the illusion that by following rules of war, soldiers and their leaders have done all anyone needs to do in terms of moral choice concerning war. Political leaders should instead engage in moral reasoning by considering other means besides war, even the option of changing objectives. Such reasoning differs from prudential reasoning not in scope but in type.
226. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Joseph Boyle Just War and Double Effect: Distinguishing Intended Damage and Unintended Side Effects
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Just war doctrine includes a stringent prohibition against killing and otherwise harming 'innocents', those of one's enemy population who are not engaged in the act of making war. This category includes most enemy civilians. The prohibition cannot reasonably prohibit all possible harms to these innocents. The doctrine of double effect is a way of limiting the prohibition to acts of intentionally harming innocents. This paper explores the application of double effect reasoning in this context, with a view towards determining whether it contains resources to prevent rationalizing and mistaken applications. I argue that, although there are hard cases, the doctrine can be applied rigorously so as to expose rationalizing applications and mistakes.
227. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Jacoby Adeshei Carter Differences in Dangerousness: The Moral Inequality of Soldiers And Non-State Combatants
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This article begins with a consideration of the standard argument for the moral equality of soldiers; namely, that soldiers are morally equal because they pose similar dangers to one another. Next, arguments for the equal application of the rules of war to both sides are considered and ultimately rejected. In the end, it is argued that if the justice of the cause for war is attributable to the warriors on either side, then modifying or unequally applying the rules of war is in some cases the morally appropriate thing to do.
228. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Ron Hirschbein Crisis and Narrativity
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Despite the dramatic changes in international politics it appears that crises---episodes in which decision-makers hazard urgent, perilous choices---will remain a prominent and dangerous feature of international relations. This realization prompts the question that informs this paper: why do American decision-makers define a situation as a crisis in the first place? I argue that prevailing theories do not adequately account for crises: the same situation (or perception of the situation) may be interpreted differently by various decision-makers. Specifically, it may be construed as an endurable problem to be resolved in due course, or an unendurable crisis demanding immediate resolution at considerable risk. I entertain the possibility that crises occur because crisis discourse has become the lingua franca in the halls of power. Taking a semiotic approach, I argue that crisis narratives are read into ambiguous situations to render them meaningful and dramatically self-valorizing.
229. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Lee Kerckhove Emancipatory Social Science and Genealogy: Habermas on Nietzsche
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I argue that Habermas’ critique of Nietzsche overlooks the similarities between his conception of an emancipatory social science and Nietzsche’s conception of genealogy. I conclude that it is necessary to disagree with Habermas’ contention that with Nietzsche the critique of modernity abandons its emancipatory content.
230. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Steven Schroeder No Goddess Was Your Mother: Western Philosophy’s Abandonment of Its Multicultural Matrix
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This paper begins with three observations: 1) At what is generally believed to be its origin in ancient Greece, “Western” philosophy is not sharply distinguished from poetry, science, or theology; 2) At what is generally believed to be its origin, “Western” philosophy is not Western; it is born in a multicultural matrix consisting of African, Asian, Middle Eastern, and Southern European influences; 3) As philosophy comes to think of itself as “Western,” it separates itself from poetry, science, and the rest of the world-particularly from its roots in Northern Africa.In the first three sections, I examine each observation in turn. In the fourth section, I take up the implications of “Western” philosophy’s alienation from its roots for the contemporary controversy surrounding multiculturalism. If the roots of “Western” philosophy are multicultural, I propose a “radical” philosophy that reclaims them in our own multicultural context. More specifically, I propose to ask a question posed here in its most brutal (but also most honest) form: does “Western” philosophy depend on the abandonment of its friends and the murder of the indigenous peoples it encounters? If yes, then it is necessary to ask whether (in Virgil’s terms) “piety” demands that the West march on in any case. Colonialism and neocolonialism join Aeneas in answering both questions affirmatively. If no, then it is possible to proceed with the kind of radical reclamation suggested above.
231. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Dane Depp Rorty, Ironist Theory, and Socio-Political Control
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In Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, Richard Rorty courageously takes a stand against the public dissemination of ironist philosophical theory, such as that produced by Nietzsche, because he sees it as being socially undermining and irreconcilable in theoretical terms with liberal democratic values. And yet, the intellectuals in his ideal society would, privately, share many of the same views from which Rorty would desire that the general public be protected. Thus Rorty would appear to trade tensions between the individual and the state for tensions between the intellectual and the nonintellectual---a dubious improvement. By redescribing both the motives of the typical ironist theorist and his basic view of large-scale, sociopolitical structure I will try to reinstate the social value of ironist theory. Throughout the paper I will fomlulate perspectives and raise questions illustrative of such theory and aimed at trying to maintain as full and open a communication as possible between the individual, whether intellectual or not, and the sociopolitical structures within which he finds himself.
232. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Debora Hammond Cultural Diversity and the Systems View
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While systems concepts had a tremendous impact on social thought in the1950s and 1960s, they are increasingly under attack in the current postmodem climate with its emphasis on particularity and difference. The idea of the system is associated with technocracy, hierarchical forms of social organization, and the suppression of individual difference. However, there is a significant body of work within the systems tradition that fosters an appreciation of diversity through its ecological orientation, and supports more participatory forms of social organization based on its understanding of the self-organizing nature of living systems. While the issue of cultural diversity is often addressed in oppositional terms, I suggest that it might be more effectively served through an appreciation of the global interdependence between all peoples and between humans and nature that can only be sustained on a cooperative and participatory basis.
233. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Dennis Temple A Big Bang Cosmological Argument?
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William Lane Craig has defended a modern First Cause argument based on 1) a principle of universal causality and 2) the claim that the universe must have had a beginning. But 1) is susceptible to counter examples from quantum theory. Moreover, Craig’s defense of 2) is open to serious question. He claims that an actual infinity (of time) is impossible; he also claims that 2) is in fact supported by big bang theory. I argue that both of these claims are mistaken, and that in consequence we have no particular reason to suppose that 2) is true. I conclude that the First Cause argument fails, but I suggest that a weaker inductive argument might be worth a try.
234. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Jennifer Welchman Kant and the Land Ethic
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Does Leopold’s land ethic principle represent a break with traditional We stern moral philosophies as some have argued? Or is it instead an extension of traditional Western moral ideas as Leopold believed? I argue that Leopold’s principle is compatible with an ecologically-informed Kantianism
235. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
K.A. Zoë Philosophical Counselling: Bridging the Narrative Rift
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Self-understanding is to a great extent defined by narrative: who we are as human beings is determined by the stories we, and others, tell about ourselves. Yet many are unable to compose coherent personal narratives, as their experiences do not fall within the scope of an accepted conceptual framework. Survivors of trauma are particularly apt to fall into this “narrative rift,” where there can be no words to describe, and hence can be no assimilation of, their experiences. Using the example of child sexual abuse, and drawing on the work of Bass, Spence, Schafer, and Guignon, I propose an examination of the nature of narrative fragmentation itself. Philosophical counselling may succeed where psychoanalysis might not: for where the latter has theoretical commitments to specific narratives, the former, through its reluctance to force epistemological or metaphysical assumptions on the narrator, may well facilitate a more comprehensive self-understanding.
236. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Philip Cafaro Thoreauvian Patriotism as an Environmental Virtue
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In Walden Henry David Thoreau argues for and against patriotism. This paper argues that thoughtful environmentalists should do likewise. It explicates Thoreau’s accounts of “settling” and farming as efforts to rethink and deepen his connections to the land. These efforts define a patriotism that is local, thoughtful and moral. Thoreau’s economic philosophy can be seen as applied patriotism. Likeother virtues such as courage or prudence, patriotism is liable to a skewed development and various kinds of misuse. Yet properly developed it is a part of a good human life. Thoreauvian patriotism provides a strong base from which to oppose militarism and xenophobia, which many intellectuals mistakenly equate with patriotism.
237. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Frederick Ferré Ted Schoen on “The Methodological Isolation of Religious Belief”
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In this brief comment on Ted Schoen’s paper, I tend to agree more than I disagree. Methodological isolation has been widely and uncritically accepted by thinkers about religion and science, and Schoen’s dissipation of the isolationist discourse deserves positive notice. For too long, science has been the bully of the epistemic neighborhood, and religious thinkers have taken refuge in methodological isolation. As Schoen argues, neither religion nor science is isolated; rather, both are interacting in the same comprehensive and value-laden domain, which also includes art, poetry, ethics and metaphysics.
238. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 2 > Issue: 3
B. William Owen On the Alleged Uniqueness and Incomprehensibility of the Holocaust
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A number of philosophers have argued that the Holocaust is incapable of philosophical analysis and explanation. There are two arguments for this view: (1) that it is unique, and thus resists such analysis; and (2) that it is incomprehensible, and thus incapable of being understood. In this article, several versions of both of these arguments are considered and shown not to support the conclusion that the Holocaust resists philosophical explanation. An alternative route to philosophical explanation is then suggested.
239. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 2 > Issue: 3
Anthony Picchioni, Mary Ann Barnhart, Joe Barnhart The Kevorkian Challenge
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The problem of self-determination in the dying process confronts a dilemma regarding clients’ desire to know and not to know. Ambivalence and guilt make “free choice” problematic in choosing the way to die. Telling dying clients the “whole truth” about their condition is an art or skill. The question of a meaningful death raises questions that philosophical analysis can help clarify.
240. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 2 > Issue: 3
John Howie Human-Centered or Ecocentric Environmental Ethics?
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Are ethical principles that guide human behavior suitable for the array of complex new environmental problems? Justice, nonmaleficence, noninterference, and fidelity seem by extension to apply. Conflicts between the principles of humanistic ethics and environmental ethics may perhaps be resolved, as Paul W. Taylor indicates, through the application of such “priority principles” as “self-defense,” “proportionality,” “minimum wrong,” and “restitutive justice.” Taylor suggests that these principles would forbid moral agents from perpetrating harm through direct killing, habitat destruction, environmental contamination, and pollution.