Arguing About War

Michael Walzer

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June 10, 2004
224 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
ISBN: 9780300103656
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A provocative discussion of recent wars and the issues that surround them, written by a preeminent political theorist

Michael Walzer is one of the world’s most eminent philosophers on the subject of war and ethics. Now, for the first time since his classic Just and Unjust Wars was published almost three decades ago, this volume brings together his most provocative arguments about contemporary military conflicts and the ethical issues they raise.

The essays in the book are divided into three sections. The first deals with issues such as humanitarian intervention, emergency ethics, and terrorism. The second consists of Walzer’s responses to particular wars, including the first Gulf War, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. And the third presents an essay in which Walzer imagines a future in which war might play a less significant part in our lives. In his introduction, Walzer reveals how his thinking has changed over time.

Written during a period of intense debate over the proper use of armed force, this book gets to the heart of difficult problems and argues persuasively for a moral perspective on war.

Michael Walzer is UPS Foundation Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of more than a dozen books, including On Toleration, The Jewish Political Tradition, Volumes I and II, and 50 Years of Dissent, all published by Yale University Press.

A selection of Readers’ Subscription

“Walzer’s discussions about war and ethics are always provocative, well argued, and insightful. He is able to transform complex issues into readable, understandable, and persuasive prose.”—Jean Bethke Elshtain, author of Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World

“Walzer’s genius lies in his ability to produce social criticism that is as timely as it is enduring. No student of war and peace can ignore the force and perspicuity of his arguments.”—Richard B. Miller, Director, Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions, Indiana University

“Important. . . . One by one, Walzer takes up the moral issues raised by an unfolding series of military conflicts—in the Gulf War, the Palestinian intifada, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He compares each conflict with others, reflects on how things might have worked out differently, and acknowledges the inherent ambiguities of humanitarian intervention. . . . Full of useful history.”—James Mann, American Prospect

“Walzer explores in this short, compelling book some of the major moral challenges posed by contemporary political violence. . . . The book . . . provides fresh and cogent moral analysis of the role of force in the postmodern era. This accessible and elegantly written study is essential reading for scholars and practitioners concerned with international ethics and, especially, the role of morality in global conflicts. Essential.”—Choice

"A new book on the ethics of war by Michael Walzer is particularly welcome at this time.  More than any other living theorist, Walzer has revitalized just war theory and the serious study of the ethics of war.  His characteristic brand of clearheaded, historically aware, and eloquent argument is precisely what is needed as we struggle to make sense of the first war-torn years of the century. . . . What Walzer gives us in these essays are explorations of strands of moral thought—elegant, persuasive, and beautifully crafted."—David Rodin, Ethics and International Affairs

“This isn’t a book from the political left (or the right) that tells you what to think. It is a guide to help one think clearly about war—not an intellectual guide but a practical guide for the world we live in. For that reason alone, Arguing about War is one of the most important books of the year.”—Aaron Howard, Houston Jewish Herald-Voice

“Walzer has moved the concerns over just war from the periphery of political theory to the very center of our democratic dilemma.”—Garry Wills, New York Review of Books

“If there is such a thing as the American conscience, one of its most important custodians is Michael Walzer. . . . Without a doubt, Walzer has more influence than anyone else writing about the morality of war. . . . A must read.”—Peter S. Temes, San Francisco Chronicle

 

“This is a must-read.”—Peter S. Temes, San Francisco Chronicle

“This book of essays has an outstanding pedigree.”—Ben Rogers, The Financial Times

"If just war discourse has a useful purpose, it is precisely to make discriminating and judicious judgments applicable to the real world of statecraft and military affairs. In Arguing about War, Walzer has provided us with another set of important and useful models of precisely such use."—Martin L. Cook, Political Theology

 

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