The ethics of war

Second edition

By A. J. Coates

The ethics of war


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9133-3
  • Pages: 408
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £18.99
  • Published Date: January 2016
  • BIC Category: PHILOSOPHY / Ethics & Moral Philosophy, Society & social sciences / Warfare & defence, Ethics & Moral Philosophy, Society & social sciences / Politics & government, Politics, Ethics & moral philosophy, Politics & government, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Military Policy


The ethics of war explores the moral limits and possibilities of conflict. The argument proceeds from a just war standpoint which balances rules or principles against the moral capacities and dispositions of belligerents and the particular circumstances in which they act.

In this enlarged second edition, a new introduction reflects on the impact of changes to just war thinking and to the practice of war since the book's original publication. The common criticism that traditional just war theory is incoherent, outmoded and in need of radical revision is resisted, and instead, a case is made for an ethics of war rooted in the historic tradition of just war. The concept of just war is compared with realism, militarism and pacifism; the principles of just recourse and just conduct are examined with the aid of real life examples; and a new third part addresses some of the ethical problems raised by terrorism and counterterrorism.


Introduction to the second edition: Just War, past and present
Introduction to the first edition
Part I: Images of war
1. Realism
2. Militarism
3. Pacifism
4. The Just War
Part II: Principles and concepts of the Just War
5. Legitimate authority
6. Just cause and right intention
7. Proportionality and the recourse to war
8. Last resort
9. Proportionality and the conduct of war
10. Noncombatant immunity
Part III: Terrorism and counterterrorism
12. On defining terrorism
13. Terrorism: some moral aspects and variables
14. Counterterrorism


A. J. Coates is Emeritus Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading

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