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Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations [Paperback]

Michael Walzer
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

31 May 1992
This classic work examines the issues surrounding military theory, war crimes, and the spoils of war from the Athenian attack on Melos to the My Lai massacre. . A classic treatment of the morality of war written by one of our countrys leading philosophers, with a new introduction considering the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo. Just and Unjust Wars examines a variety of conflicts in order to understand exactly why, according to Walzer,the argument about war and justice is still a political and moral necessity. Walzers classic work draws on historical illustrations that range all the way from the Athenian attack on Melos to this mornings headlines, and uses the testimony of participantsdecision makers and victims aliketo examine the moral issues of warfare.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Revised edition edition (31 May 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465037011
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465037018
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 906,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern Classic of Just War Theory 15 Jun 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book revived interest to just war theory and created influential debate about moral permissibility of war. Walzer develops his own theory about just war theory. It can be summarized as: War is just when it is fought only as a) self-defence b) in order to create country for a nation under foreign rule c) counter-intervention in order to repeal effect of original foreign intervention d) humanitarian intervention to stop grave an widespread human right violations. Walzer stresses also importance of rule of non-combatant immunity. Book is easy to read, without difficult terminology and it has many illustrative historical examples. I recommend this book to all who are interested in morality of war.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic in its field 23 July 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is an erudite work examining the philosophical subtelties and ethical issues that war evokes. Any one seriously interested in war, applied ethics, political philosophy, and international relations should be familiar with the arguments Walzer uses. The historical examples are standard dilemmas and problems which are useful in class discussions in philosophy as well as history. The only critique I have of the book (which I often use for my own philosophical writing) is that Walzer's ethical examination of war ends with nuclear war--in this I think he is wrong, we should not stop our analysis even with the nightmare scenario of a holocaust, for that is to give the moral hand over to those who would use nuclear arms. The book is challenging and insightful and deserves further reprints.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is superb. Among other topics, it considers the morality of initiating armed force, the moral limits on the use of force in wartime, and individual responsibiity for war crimes. The writing is very clear and the use of historical examples brings the philosophical discussion down to earth.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic in its field 23 July 1999
By amoseley@ueharlax.ac.uk - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is an erudite work examining the philosophical subtelties and ethical issues that war evokes. Any one seriously interested in war, applied ethics, political philosophy, and international relations should be familiar with the arguments Walzer uses. The historical examples are standard dilemmas and problems which are useful in class discussions in philosophy as well as history. The only critique I have of the book (which I often use for my own philosophical writing) is that Walzer's ethical examination of war ends with nuclear war--in this I think he is wrong, we should not stop our analysis even with the nightmare scenario of a holocaust, for that is to give the moral hand over to those who would use nuclear arms. The book is challenging and insightful and deserves further reprints.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern classic of just war theory 14 Jun 2001
By Riku Simonen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
No other book has created so much discussion about just war theory than this. It is really a modern classic. Book deals with two essential just war theory questions: 1) when it is morally permissible to go to war and 2) what it is morally permissible to do in war. Walzer draws many historical examples and his theory can be summarized:1) non-intervention is primary principle because nations right to self-determination must be respected. 2)Interventio to support states such right is permissible on three circumstances: a) when nation wants to make seccion out of original state and wants to create own state b) when intervention has already done and idea of new intervention is to counter original intervention effects. c)humanitarian interventio when severe and large human right violation have occured in state. Walzer's view is communitarinist: community is vital to human beings. Without community there can not be human rights. Book is easily readable and has very little or nothing philosophical jargon. I can recomment warmly this book to anyone who is interested in moral question of war.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of headache 4 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Currently a grad. student at Columbia and this is one of my texts and by far my second favorite of the semester.
Before explaining why, I want to counter the comment below about Walzer being arrogant. That is patently ridiculous and shows the reader to be short sighted and probably did not analyze the book correctly. How can Walzer be arrogant when he is merely dissecting what every person "feels" and put these "feelings" into coherent pattern of thoughts so that we can use them to analyze an inherently inhumane subject - war?
We should be glad that someone attempts to articulate this difficult realm of our thinking into words that are both manageable, make sense, and leaves plenty of room for SELF-REFLECTION.
That's the goal of the book. Is not to impose any ideas on the reader but to open your mind to this vastly difficult subject and enable you the reader to have a grasp and possibly control over your own feelings and to justify your actions through these feelings.
In conclusion, the book is a great balance among theories, historical examples, and personal conclusions.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent analysis of moral issues raised by war 1 Mar 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is superb. Among other topics, it considers the morality of initiating armed force, the moral limits on the use of force in wartime, and individual responsibiity for war crimes. The writing is very clear and the use of historical examples brings the philosophical discussion down to earth.
8 of 42 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Only if it's your bag 10 Feb 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read this book for a class, and it is by far the dryest material I have ever read. It took me multiple attempts to stay awake through, let alone understand, each and every chapter. If this is your area of interest, then yes, Walzer has some bright insight and knows his stuff. But if you're not a pacifist/poli-sci/conflict resolution-type person, by all means don't waste your time. Professors: please think twice before throwing this at your students.
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