Human Rights, International Order, and the Ethics of Peace
James G. Murphy
Before military action, and even before mobilization, the decision on whether to go to war is debated by politicians, pundits, and the public. As they address the right or wrong of such action, it is also a time when, in the language of the just war tradition, the wise would deeply investigate their true claim to jus ad bellum (“the right of war”). Wars have negative consequences, not the least impinging on human life, and offer infrequent and uncertain benefits, yet war is part of the human condition.
James G. Murphy’s insightful analysis of the jus ad bellum criteria—competent authority, just cause, right intention, probability of success, last resort, and proportionality—is grounded in a variety of contemporary examples from World War I through Vietnam, the "soccer war" between Honduras and El Salvador, Afghanistan, and the Middle East conflict. Murphy argues persuasively that understanding jus ad bellum requires a primary focus on the international common good and the good of peace. Only secondarily should the argument about going to war hinge on the right of self-defense; in fact, pursuing the common good requires political action, given that peace is not simply the absence of violence. He moves on to demonstrate the interconnectedness of the jus ad bellum criteria, contending that some criteria depend logically on others—and that competent authority, not just cause, is ultimately the most significant criterion in an analysis of going to war. This timely study will be of special interest to scholars and students in ethics, war and peace, and international affairs.
1. War and Moral Theory
2. The Goods of Peace
3. Good Authority
4. Just Cause
7. Last Resort
"A rigorous moral compass for war-making is needed, now more than ever, because war has become anonymous. Bombing and artillery allow those who kill never to look in the eyes of their victims. Scope for compassion or discretion is removed. This book restores the moral compass for war that a century of technological advance has taken away."—John Bruton, former European Union ambassador to the United States and prime minister (Taoiseach) of Ireland
"This book provides us with something we need. Too many new books, in the recent explosion regarding wartime ethics, purport to offer us everything, on every subject. This book, by refreshing contrast, is a meditation solely upon the jus ad bellum (i.e., the rules of law and morality regulating the start of war). Pleasant to read, with conceptual clarity and many historical examples, James G. Murphy’s book articulates the ends or reasons for fighting wars in the modern world. In doing so, he contributes significantly to our understanding not merely of just war theory but of the nature of armed conflict in our complex time. It’s an excellent account—deeply and enjoyably scholarly—especially regarding the vital issues of political legitimacy and the proper authority for deploying force."—Brian Orend, author of The Morality of War
"Murphy's approach is distinctive in offering an appreciation of the goods of peace, the significance of the political, and a reordering of the traditional criteria for just war making, giving priority to the requirement of competent authority and seeing just cause as dependent on it. His consideration of the common good in understanding the nature and purpose of states is a very welcome feature of this analysis."—Patrick Riordan SJ, Heythrop College, University of London
"In the best thinking about just war, reflection on the morality of the use of armed force is joined to consideration of the purposes of good politics, with the use of force to be in support of those purposes. War’s Ends is a book of this sort, employing the frame of the categories of the just war jus ad bellum both to examine a conception of politics as the service of the common good and to explore the morality of the use of armed force. In the process Murphy, though intentionally writing in dialogue with recent philosophy, returns to the core conceptions that defined the idea of just war in its classic historical form, prioritizing the end of peace and right authority for determining the justice of a use of force and the dependency of the other jus ad bellum ideas on these. This is a thoughtful, nuanced book that should provoke reflection and debate."—James Turner Johnson, Distinguished Professor, Department of Religion, Rutgers University
James G. Murphy is associate professor in the Philosophy Department at Loyola University, Chicago. Previously he taught philosophy at Milltown Institute, Dublin, Ireland. His essays have appeared in Teaching Ethics, Milltown Studies, and International Philosophical Quarterly.
240 pp., 6 x 9
240 pp., 6 x 9