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War & Morality

Past Sessions
Tuesday, April 9, 2024 1 Nisan 5784 - 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Tuesday, April 2, 2024 23 Adar II 5784 - 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Tuesday, March 26, 2024 16 Adar II 5784 - 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Tuesday, March 19, 2024 9 Adar II 5784 - 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Tuesday, March 12, 2024 2 Adar II 5784 - 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Tuesday, March 5, 2024 25 Adar I 5784 - 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

This course will address two very general questions that political leaders and democratic citizens have to answer again and again: When should we fight, and when not? How should we fight, and how not? I will address these questions drawing on the arguments of my book Just and Unjust Wars (1977; 5th edition 2017). Students may want to read the book, but this is not required. Anyone who has lived through World War Two, the Korean War, Vietnam, Afghanistan and/or the two Iraq wars, reading the newspapers and watching TV news, will have sufficient knowledge to join our discussions. Veterans of any of America's wars are especially welcome.

Half of each of the six sessions will be devoted to lecturing and half to discussion and argument. I hope to answer, or at least talk about, the following more specific questions:

          --How can war and morality sit together?

          --What is wrong about aggression, and when is self-defense justified?

          -- Is it ever right to choose neutrality?

          --What justifies (or requires) humanitarian intervention?

          --What does it mean to say that civilians are "immune" from attack?

          --How should we fight asymmetric wars?

          --What sorts of post-war settlements are justified?

          --What do writers in the Jewish tradition say about war?

Some of these questions may get short shrift, but the aim of the course is to get through them all. Like a good drill sergeant, I will try to keep the discussions marching forward.

Michael Walzer, a member of T&V with his wife Judith, is an American political theorist and public intellectual. A professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, New Jersey, he is editor emeritus of Dissent, an intellectual magazine that he has been affiliated with since his years as an undergraduate at Brandeis University.  He is also a contributing editor to The New Republic. To date, he has written 27 books (including Just and Unjust Wars (Basic Books, 1977; fifth edition, 2015) and published over 300 articles, essays, and book reviews in DissentThe New RepublicThe New York Review of BooksThe New YorkerThe New York TimesHarpers, and many philosophical and political science journals.

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Mon, April 15 2024 7 Nisan 5784