Ethics & International Affairs Volume 35.3 (Fall 2021)

Oct 29, 2021

The editors of Ethics & International Affairs are pleased to present the Fall 2021 issue of the journal!

The highlight of this issue is a book symposium organized by Peter Balint on Ned Dobos's Ethics, Security, and the War Machine, featuring contributions by Balint; Neta C. Crawford; C. A. J. Coady; Ned Dobos; Cécile Fabre; Christopher J. Finlay; David Rodin; and Cheyney Ryan. Additionally, the issue includes a feature article by Philipp Gisbertz-Astolfi on the reduced legal equality of combatants in war and an essay by Hendrik Schopmans and Jelena Cupać on ethical AI, gender equality, and illiberal backlash politics. It also contains a review essay by Andreas Papamichail on the global politics of health security, and a book review by Claire Finkelstein.


Engines of Patriarchy: Ethical Artificial Intelligence in Times of Illiberal Backlash Politics
Hendrik Schopmans and Jelena Cupać
In recent years, concerns over the risks posed by artificial intelligence (AI) have mounted. In response, international organizations (IOs) have begun to translate the emerging consensus on the need for ethical AI into concrete international rules and standards. While the path toward effective AI governance faces many challenges, this essay shifts attention to an obstacle that has received little attention so far: the growing illiberal backlash in IOs.


Introduction: Is a Military Really Worth Having?
Peter Balint
In Ethics, Security, and the War-Machine, Ned Dobos argues that we have not sufficiently calculated the true (noneconomic) costs of the military, and that if we did, having a standing defense force would not seem like as good an idea. The essays in this symposium take Dobos's work as a starting point and show the importance, complexity, and richness of this new strand of ethical inquiry.

Democracy and the Preparation and Conduct of War
Neta C. Crawford
This essay argues that war and militarism are antipodal to democracy and undermine it. Their normative bases are conflicting; democracy takes force off the table, whereas force is legitimate in war. Thus, while militarism and militarization can sometimes yield liberalization and the expansion of civil rights, they are arguably more likely to undermine democratic norms and practices.

Nation-States, Empires, Wars, Hostilities
Cheyney Ryan
A starting point for thinking about war and preparations for war is that today the average citizen in Western countries has absolutely no interest in fighting in a war him or herself. This "great refusal," however, has not meant the end of war, or of preparations for war, but rather war's transformation from a "nationalized" to a "postnationalized" arrangement.

War Crimes and the Asymmetry Myth
C. A. J. Coady
The “asymmetry myth” is that war crimes are committed by one's enemies but never, or hardly ever, by one's own combatants. This essay argues that the strength of the asymmetry myth is sustained by certain forms of romantic nationalism linked to the glamorization of military endeavor.

War, Duties to Protect, and Military Abolitionism
Cécile Fabre
Just war theorists who argue that war is morally justified under certain circumstances infer implicitly that establishing the military institutions needed to wage war is also morally justified. This essay mounts a case in favor of a standing military establishment: to the extent that going to war is a way to discharge duties to protect fellow citizens and distant strangers from grievous harms, we have a duty to set up the institutions that enable us to discharge that duty.

Are States under a Prospective Duty to Create and Maintain Militaries?
Ned Dobos
This essay argues that while the financial, political, and moral costs associated with militarization might be worth bearing under some conceivable circumstances, most states today do not find themselves in circumstances anything like these. Therefore, most states today are not under a prospective duty to be militarized; they are released from that duty by the high-cost proviso.

Deconstructing Nonviolence and the War-Machine: Unarmed Coups, Nonviolent Power, and Armed Resistance
Christopher J. Finlay
Proponents of nonviolent tactics often highlight the extent to which they rival arms as effective means of resistance. In Ethics, Security, and the War-Machine, Ned Dobos cites the work of Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephen in support of the claim that nonviolent methods—organized according to Gene Sharp's idea of "civilian-based defense"— may be substituted for regular armed forces in the face of international aggression. This essay deconstructs this line of pacifist thought by arguing that it builds on the wrong binary.

Justice Between Wars
David Rodin
One way to tell the story of contemporary ethics of war is as a gradual expansion of the period of time to which theorists attend in relation to war, from ad bellum and in bello to post bellum and ex bello. Ned Dobos, in his book, Ethics, Security, and the War-Machine, invites us to expand this attention further to the period between wars, which he calls jus ante bellum. This essay explores two significant implications of this shift in normative focus.


Reduced Legal Equality of Combatants in War
Philipp Gisbertz-Astolfi
The focus on the moral rights of combatants in the ethics of war ignores a very important point: although morally unjust combatants cannot be considered moral equals to just combatants, especially with regard to the right to kill, there are sound moral reasons why the laws of war should accept a kind of equality between them, a concept referred to as "reduced legal equality." This article shows that reduced legal equality of combatants is not only the morally best legal regulation in our nonideal international world but also the correct interpretation of international law.


The Global Politics of Health Security before, during, and after COVID-19
Andreas Papamichail
The COVID-19 pandemic has been shaped by preexisting political, social, and economic relations and governance structures, and will remold these structures going forward. This review essay considers three books on global health politics written by Simon Rushton, Clare Wenham, and Jeremy Youde, and explores what these books collectively and individually can tell us about these preexisting dynamics, the events of the first eighteen months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and possible future directions in the politics of global health.


War by Agreement: A Contractarian Ethics of War
Yitzhak Benbaji and Daniel Statman
Review by Claire Finkelstein
Since the 1970s, philosophers and other academics have written a great deal about the theory of war. At the same time, there has been a parallel flourishing of writing on contractarianism in philosophy and political theory. But there has been no systematic or sustained work that combines both areas of inquiry—a contractarian treatment of the laws of war—until now.

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