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Regular version of the site
Master 2019/2020

The Problems of War and Peace in Philosophy and World Religions

Type: Elective course (International Relations in Eurasia)
Area of studies: International Relations
Delivered by: Магистерская программа "Международные отношения в Евразии", направление подготовки "Международные отношения" (Кент)
When: 2 year, 1 module
Mode of studies: Full time
Instructors: Boris Kashnikov
Master’s programme: International Relations in Eurasia
Language: English
ECTS credits: 4

Course Syllabus


This is a course in applyed philosophy of war and peace, which is integrative and interdisciplinary due to its very nature. The course offers a substantial study of the facts, theory and normative aspects of war and peace. The students will get acquainted with the major historical facts and theories of war as well as with some practical normative approaches related to pacifism, political realism, militarism and just war theory. This course is based on knowledge and competences which were provided by such disciplines as Introductions to Philosophy, Elementary Political Science, General Sociology and General History of religion. The following knowledge and competences are needed to study the discipline: The basic skills of philosophical and normative analysis, the basic knowledge of facts of European history of war and history of religion, the knowledge of basic theories of political science and the theory of international relations as well as the ability to apply them.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The major learning objectives are comprised of factual knowledge of the development of the historical faces of war and the normative theories of war stemming from philosophy, ethics and theology. The students are supposed to developed the adequate skills of normative analysis of war to be able to take part in the practical discourse on war and to provide philosophical analysis of the ongoing conflict, war or some other outbreak of substantial violence.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • The major normative attitudes to war such as Pacifism, realism and militarism are the basic possible normative and moral attitudes to war. The students will learn the major strands of pacifism, realism and militarism and will be able to recognize it in public discourse
  • War is closely related to other forms of violence. The students will learn about the major distinctions between war and less honorable forms of violence and will be able to distinguish war proper as morally acceptable activity from the forms of violence, which are attested to absolute and total war
  • Just war theory is one of the major theoretical tools in philosophy and religion to argue about war. The students will learn the major just war theories and will be able to use it in the theoretical discourse. They will also be able to classify the major theoretical drawbacks of the theory
  • The students are supposed to understand the meaning and the content of the major normative principles of war. They must be able to produce logically valid normative statements based on the justification of war.
  • The understanding of the major descriptions of the meaning of the holy war in different religions and the ability to compare different religions traditions in terms of the attitude to war.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • The normative attitudes to war in philosophy and religion: Pacifism, Realism and Militarism.
    1. War and normativity. The normative nature of war. Military virtues and values. Cohesion. Military and the state. 2. Absolute pacifism. The unreasonableness of absolute pacifism. Religious absolute pacifism. Pacifism of Tolstoy. 3. Contingent pacifism. The classification of contingent pacifisms. Political pacifism. Individual pacifism. Nuclear pacifism. Pacifism and feminism. 4. Pacifism and contemporary political movements. Pacifism and the contemporary left movement. Pacifism and environmentalism. 5. Religious pacifism. Pacifism in sectarian Christianity. Pacifism of Quakers. Pacifism in Buddism. 6. Militarism. Absolute militarism of some ancient cultures. War as an way of life and an end in itself. Military values. Kant on sublimity of war. Hegel on virtues of war and degeneration of peace. Militarism of Mussolini. Contingent militarism. 7. Early realism. Thucydides. On Peloponnesian war. The general approach of Thucydides. Melian dialogue. 8. Realism and early modernity. Machiavelli and Hobbes. Machiavelli on war. Hobbes on state of war, prerogative and international relations. 9. Realism of the 20th century. Realism in international politics of the 20th century. Henry Kissinger. 10. American realism of Niebuhr and Morgenthau. Moral man and immoral society. Politics among nations. The struggle for power and peace. Pessimism. The realism of Greek tragedy. Lebow and “Why nations fight”. 11. Contemporary realism and contemporary politics. The emergence of global sovereign. The transformation of realism through just war theory.
  • Nature, meaning and short history of war
    1. The definitions and conceptions of war. Different definitions of war. The major features of war as an institute. The problem of the embeddedness of war in human history. War and progress. Total war. Absolute war. War and religion. War and philosophy. 2. Clausewitz “On War”. War as continuation of politics by other means. War as a duel. Absolute and limited war. The aim of war. The conception of “trinity”. The friction of war and the “fog of war’. Military genius. Military strategy and tactics. The goals of war. The influence of Clausewitz on the consequent military and political thought. 3. The reason and motives of war. War and reason. Rationality and war. The reasons for war. Interests and war. Honor and war. Standing and war. Fear and war. War of aggression and self-defense. National-liberation movements and war. Humanitarian intervention. 4. The modes of warfare. Insurgency. Partisanship. Asymmetric warfare. Strategic air war. Little wars. Nuclear war. War of attrition. Terror war. Ideological war. Digital war. Economic war. Blockade. Cyber war. Religious wars. 5. The pre human warfare. Aggression in nature. Konrad Lorenz “On Aggression”. Sociobiology and the survival of the fittest. The “militancy” of apes and the traces of war in early hominids. 6. War and human nature. Hobbesian tradition of human nature. Rousseau and the conception of the “noble savage”. Hume and the double nature of human beings. The contemporary conceptions of human violence. The cultural conception. The biological conception. Game theoretical approach. 7. War in hunter-gather society. 99% of human history was history of cave man. Anthropology of primitive warfare. Archeology of warfare. The necessity of war. War as way of life. 8. War in agrarian society. The emergence of sedentary way of life and the clash with nomads. The emergence of vast empires and class differentiation. The regional and social inequality. The conception of the class nature of war. 9. War in industrial society. The emergence of contemporary state. “War made state, states made war”. Gun powder and war. Military technologies. Standing armies. Conscription. Strategy. Reason d’état. 10. War and postmodern condition. Postmodern war. The changing nature of sovereignty. Global condition. Politics as continuation of war. Globalization and permanent war. Global police operations. Permanent war.
  • The Four Horsemen of Apocalypse. War, Genocide, Revolution and Terrorism.
    1. The nature of violence. Violence and force. The meaning of violence. Structural violence. Institutional violence. Violence and law. Violence and civilization. 2. Genocide. Genocide in history of civilization. Genocide and modernity. The modern cases of genocide. Genocide in international law. 3. Revolutionary violence and insurgency. Tyrannicide. Coup d’état. The war of Partisan. National liberation war. Fanon and his “Wretched of the Earth”. Revolutions. Dostoyevsky and “The Devils”. The early evaluations of revolutionary violence. The possible justifications of uprisings. 4. State repressions. Early conceptions of the permissible level of state violence in Augustine and Aquinas. Absolutism in Europe. Hobbes on the prerogative of sovereign power. Nazism. Bauman and “Modernity and the Holocaust”. Purges in the USSR. Mccarthyism in the USA. “Discipline and Punish” by Foucault. Contemporary problems with the prerogative of the government. 5. Criminal violence. Crime and society. Criminality as subculture. Violence in detention faculties. The phenomenon of Gulag. “Thief’s law”. Mafia and mafia’s wars. Mafia and the state. The role of religion in criminal violence. 6. Terror, war and violence. The nature of terrorism. The distinction of terror and terrorism. Terrorism as communicative action. Game theoretical approach to terrorism. Terrorism and the major forms of violence. Terrorism as fact and value. The subjective nature of “terroristic” labelling. 7. The classification of terrorism. Affective terrorism. Traditional terrorism. Value-rational terrorism. Rational terrorism. Post modern (global terrorism) 8. Jacobin’s terror, French revolution and terrorism. The demonstrative and mythological nature of French terrorism. The justification of terror. 9. Revolutionary terrorism of the late 19th early 20th century. Revolutionary spirit of the 19th century Europe. The case of Russian revolutionary terrorism. 10. Terrorism of the second half of the 20th century. Red brigades. IRA terrorism. Shri Lanka and terrorism of the national liberation movement. 11. Terrorism on the “Holy land”. Terrorism of the early Jewish state. Early Palestinian terrorism. The counter terrorism of Israel. 12. Contemporary terrorism. The case of Chechnya. The emergence and nature of Chechen terrorism. The sources of terrorism. The contemporary condition. 13. Contemporary terrorism. The case of ISIS and Al-Qaeda. The idea of global terrorism. The case of Al-Qaeda. The case of ISIS.
  • Just war theory as philosophical and religious doctrine.Theoretical development from St. Augustine to Walzer.
    1. St. Augustine and the foundation of the Just War Theory. The unique plight of Christianity as state religion. The blend of Roman militarism and Christian pacifism. The sinful violence versus non sinful violence. The sin of hate, the virtue of chastity. Just cause. Good intentions. Legitimate authority. The roots of crusading in the writings of Augustine. 2. St. Thomas and the establishment of the Just War Theory. The nature of war in the middle ages. Two cultures. Just war theory as official normative conception of war of Res publica Christiana. The justification of uprising. 3. Francisco de Vitoria. The revitalization of the Just War Theory. The new formulations of the major principles. The practical role of the just war theory. De Indis. The critique of violence of the Spanish politics in colonies. 4. Hugo Grotius. The secularization of the Just War Theory and the emergence of the international law. The completion of the just war theory. The transformation of the just war theory into secular international law. The major principles of international law. 5. The reemergence of Just War Theory. Walzer, “Just and Unjust Wars” and sovereignty paradigm. The justice of self-defense. The conception of supreme emergency. Preventive war and preventive war. The possibility of limited intervention. The set of principles. Cases. 6. Latest developments. Human rights paradigm. Just combatants versus unjust combatants. Human rights and the necessity of their global support. The justification of humanitarian intervention. The justice of war on terror. 7. The contemporary implications of the just war theory. Ideology of justice. Just war theory and the war on Serbia. The war on Libya. The war on Iraq. Afghanistan. Just war theory as official ideology of war in the USA and Great Britain. 8. The critique of the Just War Theory. An inadequate conception of justice. The mistake in normative settings. The wrong assumptions. Does justice justify war? The impossibility of just war in the contemporary setting.
  • The normative principles of war in philosophy and religions. Jus in bello and Jus ad Bellum.
    1. The nature of principles of the just war. Norms, principles and rules. The principles with no empirical foundation. The wishful thinking character of the principles. Principles with no definite rules. 2. Just cause. Self-defense versus the defense of others. Promotions of values. Aggression. The problem of self-defense. 3. Good intentions. The subjectivity of intentions. The problem of measurement. Intentions and motives. Intentions and means. 4. Legitimate authority. The problem of legitimation. What makes authority? State sovereignty. The authority of international law and international institutions. The legitimacy of separatism. The legitimacy of Nazism. What legitimates the Nurnberg tribunal? The doubtful legitimacy of NATO interventions. 5. Last resort. What makes resort last. The problem of criteria. 6. Proportionality. The proportional and disproportional violence. The subjectivity of principles. Impossibility of universally valid rules. 7. Reasonable chance of success. Risk loving and risk aversive behavior. The impossibility of common rules of success. What makes success. Moral and rational dimension of success. The subjectivity of values. 8. The general idea of limited and constrained war. The historical tradition of constrained war. Chivalry. The wars of mercenaries of the early modernity. The tradition of constrained war in ancient Greece and India. 9. Proportionality. Proportionality in strategy and tactics of war. The cases of proportional and disproportional war. The subjectivity of the principles. 10. Discrimination. The distinction of combatants and noncombatants at war. The grows of deaths among civilians in contemporary war. 11. Geneva law. The sequence of statutes. 12. Hague Law. The early and contemporary statutes. 13. ICRC and humanitarian law of war. The legacy of Henri Dunant. The spirit of Solferino. The emergence of International Red Cross. Promulgation of humanitarian law in national legal systems. 14. The contemporary implications of humanitarian law. International court of justice. The Haag tribunal. The problems with the implementation of international law.
  • Holy War in Christian and Islamic tradition. The contemporary transformation of war.
    1. Two cultures, different traditions. The relevance of religion for the conduct of statecraft. The challenges to realist paradigm. The debate over importance of civilization in politics. War for religion and cultural tradition 2. The idea of Holy War. The faces of Holy War. The meanings of Holy War. The comparison of Holy War and Just War. 3. Holy War and the Question of justification. The two words concept. The historical development in justification of war. The idea of Jihad in Shaybani’s Siyar. Augustinian idea of two cities and holy war. The concept of Jihad in Farabi. 4. Authority to make Holy War. Authority to make war in Western tradition. Authority to make war in Islam. Rival claims to authority. 5. The conduct in Holy War. Restrain in Holy war in Western tradition. The conduct of war in normative Islamic tradition. 6. Holy War and the practice of justification. Worldly authorities and the success of God’s plan. The Islamic ideal of religio-political unity. The Islamic juristic ideal and practice of statecraft. The idea of defensive Jihad. Ghaza – war for the faith. Appropriating the models for Jihad in modern practice. Individual duty and the right to wage Jihad. 7. Asymmetric warfare. Major features of asymmetric warfare. Terrorism as the result of asymmetries. 8. New technologies. Precision weapons. Drones. Enhanced soldier equipment. Drugs. 9. Moral problem of drone war. Major stages of drone war. Characteristics of drones. 10. Cyber war. The consequences of cyber war. 11. Private military companies. Mercenaries and the specificity of mercenary war. Major contemporary private military companies. The moral consequences of the involvement of private military companies. 12. War without victory. The meaning of victory. The characteristic of victory. Victory as a combination of motives, means and goals. The glimmer of absolute war.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking The current grading of the the work at the seminars.
  • non-blocking Research paper. 20 thousand characters on one of the topic indicated
  • non-blocking Oral exam.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (1 module)
    0.5 * Oral exam. + 0.25 * Research paper. 20 thousand characters on one of the topic indicated + 0.25 * The current grading of the the work at the seminars.


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Cady, D. L. (2010). From Warism to Pacifism : A Moral Continuum (Vol. 2nd ed). Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=326103
  • Craig, C. (DE-588)133200329, (DE-576)17820420X. (2003). Glimmer of a new Leviathan : total war in the realism of Niebuhr, Morgenthau, and Waltz / Campbell Craig. New York [u.a.]: Columbia University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.107906570
  • Fiala, A. G. (2007). The Just War Myth : The Moral Illusions of War. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=633280
  • Fotion, N., & Coppieters, B. (2008). Moral Constraints on War : Principles and Cases (Vol. 2nd ed). Lanham: Lexington Books. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=234589
  • Frowe, H. (2011). Moral Dilemmas of Modern War: Torture, Assassination, and Blackmail in an Age of Asymmetric Conflict, by Michael Gross. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.2B24E23E
  • Govier, T. (1991). Duane L. Cady, From Warism to Pacifism: A Moral Continuum. Reviewed by. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.D6F9B35A
  • McMahan, J. (2009). Killing in War. Oxford: OUP Oxford. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=271286
  • Moussalli, A. S. (2001). Jihad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam By Reuven Firestone (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 206 pp. Price HB {pound}17.99. ISBN 0-19-512580-0. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.7390C2FE
  • Rodin, D. (2015). War and Self-Defense. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.5768F7F
  • Walzer, M. (2004). Arguing About War. New Haven [Ct.]: Yale University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=187686
  • Wilson, P. (1999). Shorter note. Why Wars Happen. Jeremy Black. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.C1C27E9F

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Dawes, J. (2013). Evil Men. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=520752
  • Fiala, A. G. (2004). Practical Pacifism. New York: Algora Publishing. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=114718
  • Khosrokhavar, F. (2009). Inside Jihadism : Understanding Jihadi Movements Worldwide. Boulder: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=571881
  • LEO TOLSTOY. (2017). The Kingdom of God Is Within You. [S.l.]: BookRix. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1469719
  • War, torture and terrorism : ethics and war in the 21st century / ed. by David Rodin. (2007). Malden, MA [u.a.]: Blackwell. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.271622121