Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Utilitarianism and Recourse to War

  • WILLIAM H. SHAW (a1)
Abstract

Despite the enormous impact that war and the threat of war have had on human well-being, utilitarians have had surprisingly little to say about when, if ever, we may fight wars. Discussion of this question has been dominated by realism, pacifism and just war theory. This article takes some preliminary steps toward remedying this situation. I begin by spelling out what I call the Utilitarian War Principle (UWP). After presenting some considerations in its favour and answering some possible objections to it, I compare UWP with pacifism and with the principles of jus ad bellum found in the work of contemporary just war theorists. I argue that adherents of UWP should treat those principles as secondary moral principles, which, although subordinate to UWP, can and should guide its application and which, in turn, should be refined and revised with this goal in mind.

Copyright
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong , ‘Preventive War – What Is It Good For?’, Preemption: Military Action and Moral Justification, ed. Henry Shue and David Rodin (Oxford, 2007), pp. 202–21

Thomas Hurka , ‘Proportionality in the Morality of War’, Philosophy & Public Affairs 33.1 (2005), pp. 3466, at 66

R. M. Hare in his Moral Thinking: Its Levels, Method, and Point (Oxford, 1981)

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Utilitas
  • ISSN: 0953-8208
  • EISSN: 1741-6183
  • URL: /core/journals/utilitas
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 17
Total number of PDF views: 54 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 277 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.