Ethics & International Affairs Volume 11 (1997): Special Section: Twenty Years of Michael Walzer's Just and Unjust Wars: Just and Unjust Wars Revisited (Introduction)

Dec 4, 1997

As the following papers demonstrate, Michael Walzer’s Just and Unjust Wars continues to provoke thought and debate two decades after its publication. The book remains widely taught in college courses and is cited whenever the morality of war is discussed. It is appropriate, then, to celebrate the book’s twentieth anniversary by reconsidering its arguments in light of what we have learned in the intervening years. The papers were discussed at a symposium hosted by the Carnegie Council in May 1996 and have been revised to take account of the conversation that occurred there. David Hendrickson takes issue with the book’s criticism of realism, pointing to realist elements in Walzer’s own argument. Theodore Koontz provides a careful analysis of some problems in Walzer’s treatment of the noncombatant immunity principle. Both papers deal with the tension in Walzer’s book between a morality of rights and a morality of consequences, a tension that Joseph Boyle illuminates in his contribution. And in a paper inspired by the symposium debate, Michael Joseph Smith provides an appreciation that serves as a readable introduction to the issues considered by the other contributors. Finally, Michael Walzer responds in what, if past is prologue, won’t be the last word on the argument of Just and Unjust Wars.

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