e-book Kant and the End of War. A Critique of Just War Theory

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Kant stands almost unchallenged as one of the major thinkers of the European Enlightenment. This book brings the ideas of his critical philosophy to bear on one of the leading political and legal questions of our age: under what circumstances, if any, is recourse to war legally and morally justifiable? This issue was strikingly brought to the fore by the war in Iraq. The book critiques the tradition of just war thinking and suggests how international law and international relations can be viewed from an alternative perspective that aims at a more pacific system of states.

Instead of seeing the theory of just war as providing a stabilizing context within which international politics can be carried out, Williams argues that the theory contributes to the current unstable international condition. The just war tradition is not the silver lining in a generally dark horizon but rather an integral feature of the dark horizon of current world politics. Kant was one of the first and most profound thinkers to moot this understanding of just war reasoning and his work remains a crucial starting point for a critical theory of war today.

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Vivienne Brown. This is supported by first establishing the history of secular just war theory, specifically through a consideration of the work of Hugo Grotius, Rights of War and Peace. I take his approach, from a natural law perspective, as indicative of the just war theory tradition. I also offer a brief critique of this tradition, suggesting some issues that are endemic to these kinds of theories. Orend attempts to shoehorn Kant into a tradition which Kant rejects as ineffective, and poorly grounded.

If not a traditional just war theory, then either a new category of just war theory needs to be established, or the thesis ought to be rejected. Thus, the next task is to defend against the claim that Kant does not have a just war theory at all, as claimed by Howard Williams in his work Kant and the End of War. This view is also utilized in a new manner in the last chapter. Prior to describing the new category of just war theory, I consider the general approach Kant had to war.