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Regular version of the site

‘In Russian the Word “Justice” Is Not Associated with the Word “War”’

Researchers from the Higher School of Economics have begun working with the research centre of the French Saint-Cyr Military Academy (École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr) on the moral and political issues of modern-day warfare. One part of this partnership was a conference devoted to just war theory and problems with combating terrorism. Below, Faculty of Humanities Professor Boris Kashnikov, also a participant of the conference, tells Scholar Viewpoint whether there can be justice in war and how scholars of the humanities are able to work together with the military.

Boris Kashnikov

The West has something called just war theory. What is it exactly? It is believed that there’s a certain set of principles under which war can be considered justified. This includes just cause, right intention, competent authority, and proportionality. It’s not enough to start a war justly, but it has to be carried out justly as well. The most important principle here is selectivity and proportionality – civilians shouldn’t suffer and force shouldn’t go beyond what is minimally necessary. For example, terrorism is thought to be an excellent example of unjust war since terrorists break most if not all of these principles.

I personally do not support just war theory. I think that contemporary warfare cannot be just, though it can be morally justified. But war is morally justifiable not because it is just, but because it is necessary. In this sense, the only justifiable war is one limited to the need for direct self-defense, which is mentioned in the Charter of the United Nations. There are very dangerous consequences for any attempt to expand this law by including in it war justified by the need to support human rights around the world.

By the way, unlike for example the English or Latin language, in Russian the word ‘justice’ is not associated with the word ‘war.’ War by definition cannot be just, though it can be morally justifiable, but only as a last resort. War is just when a person defends themselves and their family and when they defend their country, but only then. Modern-day warfare does not involve a ‘just’ war from the times of chivalric tournaments, when knights would fight under specific rules without harming the civilian population. In any contemporary war, innocent people are the ones who suffer for the most part, and the consequences of any war are unpredictable.

In addition to myself, other representatives of HSE attended the conference at Saint-Cyr Military Academy: Maxim Bratersky, professor in the Faculty of World Economy and International AffairsMikhail Ilyin, professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences; and Arseniy Kumankov, lecturer in the Faculty of Humanities.

The fact that a conference like this took place shows how much France is interested in developing a partnership with us despite the current political climate, and the relevance of the conference is apparent when you consider the individuals who participated in France. The conference saw the participation of Jean de Gliniasty, the former Ambassador of France to Russia; France Luc Garnier, general commissioner and the head of France’s antiterrorism centre; Thibault de Montbrial, the president of the domestic security research centre; and Sandrine Tagri, a researcher with the Saint-Cyr Military Academy’s research centre.

The conference once again confirmed that solving relevant problems in war and peace requires the broadest of international cooperation, and this cooperation has to be multidisciplinary and scientifically practical. Our plans include involving other HSE faculties in the partnership and possibly organising the next French-Russian conference in Moscow next year for both theoreticians and practitioners.


See also:

Digitization of Manuscripts: Months of Searching Can Turn into Hours and Even Minutes

HSE staff members are participating in the ‘Russian Cultural Heritage: Intellectual Analysis and Thematic Modeling of the Corpus of Handwritten Texts’ project. This is aimed at developing a methodology for the automated analysis of manuscripts, eliminating the need for manual processing. HSE News Service spoke to Ekaterina Boltunova, project manager, Professor, Head of the Laboratory 'Russia’s Regions in Historical Perspective' at HSE Faculty of Humanities.

I’m Writing to You: What Postcards Can Tell Us

Not so long ago, postcards were a popular way to congratulate someone or send a message. Today the postcard can instead be described as an exotic means of communication, and a rich field for research. This is what encouraged the students and teachers from Fundamental and Applied Linguistics at the Faculty of Humanities to embark on a flash mob project called ‘Send a Postcard to a Linguist’. Deputy Dean Timur Khusyainov of the Faculty of Humanities (Nizhny Novgorod), the curator of this flash mob and an experienced postcrosser, discusses whether postcards can be helpful for researchers and how they relate to digital humanities.

Poletaev Readings Consider New Turns In and Away from Theory in the Humanities

The Poletaev Readings, dedicated to the memory of Andrey Poletaev, one of the founders of the Poletaev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities (Russian acronym — IGITI), is a major annual event of the Institute. The event was set to mark its 10th anniversary in 2020, but due to the pandemic, the anniversary forum has been postponed to 2021. In its place, the organizers have arranged the Poletaev Readings 9¾, which were held online. HSE News Service spoke with the event organizer and some of the participants.

What Does the Lens of Gender Reveal?

In June, faculty members from HSE’s School of Cultural Studies, the School of Philosophy, and the Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities met with colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh (USA) and a Russian art historian to participate in a round table on the importance of gender studies in the humanities. The researchers discussed questions such as what historians, philosophers, and historians can achieve when approaching their fields of study from the standpoint of gender studies, and what the state of gender studies is in contemporary Russia and abroad.

Vera Pozzi – A Year of Russian Intellectual Culture

Ever since she completed her dissertation on ‘The role of the Ecclesiastical Academies in Reception of Kantianism in the Russian Empire’ in 2015, Vera Pozzi, a native of the northern Italian city of Lecco, has sought an opportunity to return to Russia to take her research to the next level. When she saw HSE’s call for international fellowships, she was drawn by the internationally oriented nature of the application and the opportunity to apply for a field like ‘History of Russian Intellectual Culture’, which aligns perfectly with her current research interests. In September, Vera will be enrolled in the Faculty of Humanities, School of Philosophy for one year under a post-doc fellowship.

Studying Medicine in the Humanities

At the most recent Andrey Poletayev Memorial Readings held by the Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities (IGITI), participants discussed the relationship between the natural sciences and the social sciences. HSE Professor Elena Vishlenkova tells us why scholars in the humanities are interested in the natural sciences and what contribution they can make to this field.

Berlin Scholar to Return to HSE for Series of Lectures on Literature

From September 25 till October 5 2016, Professor Dr Joachim Küpper of the Free University of Berlin will deliver a series of lectures on ‘Humanities and Conceptualization of Time at HSE Moscow. Joachim Küpper’s travel to HSE follows the university’s decision this past summer to join a key project run by the Dahlem Humanities Center at the Free University of Berlin called ‘The Thematic Network Principles of Cultural Dynamics’.

Russian and Italian Intellectuals Speak a Common Language

In late May Moscow hosted a Russian-Italian research conference marking the anniversary of the birth of Italian philosopher Benedetto Croce. The conference entitled 'The Legacy of Benedetto Croce in the 21st Century' was organized by and held at the HSE's Humanities Faculty in conjunction with the Italian Cultural Institute in Moscow.

HSE Expanding International Cooperation in the Humanities

In 2016, the Higher School of Economics will be the first Russian university to become an associate member of a large project being carried out by the Freie Universität Berlin’s Dahlem Humanities Center. The project, entitled the Thematic Network Principles of Cultural Dynamics, aims to strengthen international cooperation in humanities research. Its objective is to study the factors that affect the cultural processes in the history of humanity’s development.  

How Are Human Sciences and Sociology and the Humanities Related? The Debate Continues

The Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities (IGITI) held an international conference on 29-30 October 2015 on ‘Biological Concepts, Models, and Metaphors in Social and Human Sciences’. For two days, Russian, European and American researchers discussed the relations between social sciences and the humanities and various life sciences. This topic arises largely in the light of the recent boom in genetics, medicine and biology which have led academics to reconsider previous concepts of boundaries and connections between disciplines.