Ethics & International Affairs Volume 11 (1997): Special Section: Twenty Years of Michael Walzer's Just and Unjust Wars: In Defense of Realism: A Commentary on Just and Unjust Wars [Abstract]

Dec 4, 1997

A significant portion of Walzer's Just and Unjust Wars is an argument "against realism." While Hendrickson applauds Walzer for his examination of the just war tradition, he nevertheless asserts that Walzer has characterized the tradition of political realism in a misleading way. Not simply the moral atheism it is portrayed to be, realism recognizes the moral reality of war while emphasizing state security and independence as the most important factors for the protection of citizens and the continuity of the political community. Indeed, Hendrickson identifies many realist aspects of Walzer's own moral arguments. He takes issue, however, with Walzer's treatment of intervention, self-determination, and the legitimate aims of war, stating that Walzer's framework is exceedingly permissive and ambiguous in these areas. Hendrickson concludes that the use of such a just war theory may lead to significant problems in the post-Cold War world.

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