The Ethics of War

War is often perceived as completely unethical, yet the people who engage in warfare always have ethical systems and cultural frameworks that shape their military practices and individual behaviors.

Classic texts on warfare from Thucydides to Clausewitz grapple with ethical issues, and many modern historians of war, culture, and society raise ethical questions in their work.

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The New York Times has published an article showcasing Professor Robert H. Latiff’s Philosophy course on the “The Ethics of Emerging Weapons Technologies,” at the University of Notre Dame. Latiff was a major general in the United States Air Force who retired in 2006. The Notre Dame website indicates that Latiff earned a Ph.D. in Material Science at the University of Notre Dame and is currently teaching there as an Adjunct Professor at the Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values.

According to the New York Times, “Dr. Latiff has written forcefully of his concerns about ‘emerging robotic armies’ with ‘no more than a veneer of human control.’ He has served on a committee that is producing a report on ethics and new weaponry for the National Research Council. It will be the subject of a conference at Notre Dame in April.”

It is refreshing to see a major news organization report on the teaching of ethics in warfare. Historians and philosophers have been actively researching and teaching ethical considerations of war since the 1960s, integrating ethical issues into military history, peace studies, political philosophy, and related disciplines.

The New York Times reports on the ethics of war.

Reposted from the Center for the Study of Religious Violence, led by Professors Brian Sandberg and Sean Farrell at Northern Illinois University.

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