Just War: An American Reflection on the Morality of War in Our Time

Just War: An American Reflection on the Morality of War in Our Time

by Peter S. Temes
     
 

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"War," Peter Temes writes, "is always wrong but sometimes necessary." With that principle at its center, The Just War offers a critical history of Just War thinking, beginning with ancient epics and extending through American responses to the terrorist attacks of September 11. More than a challenging new appraisal of Just War's history, Mr. Temes's book proposes a

Overview

"War," Peter Temes writes, "is always wrong but sometimes necessary." With that principle at its center, The Just War offers a critical history of Just War thinking, beginning with ancient epics and extending through American responses to the terrorist attacks of September 11. More than a challenging new appraisal of Just War's history, Mr. Temes's book proposes a radically new vision of Just War thinking, one that respects the received tradition but takes account of the moral experience of today's world. He sees the Gulf War, the turmoil of Yugoslavia, Israel's Occupied Territories, and questions about Iraq and the "war on terror" as moral challenges that cannot be easily resolved but must nevertheless be addressed. Looking closely at the history of Islam, the philosophy of Jihad, Christian thought, the experience of the Crusades, and the Hebrew Bible's teachings about war, he considers their lessons with our modern experience in mind. His clear descriptions of the writings of European thinkers on war, including Rousseau, Kant, and Hegel, are focused on the meanings these ideas must have for us today. And Mr. Temes speaks directly to the central moral questions about war, arriving at the core principles of a Just War philosophy for our time: that it acknowledges the preciousness and value of all human life; that it is a war about the future and not about the past; and that it strengthens the rights of individuals.

Editorial Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle
...Reading and discussing The Just War seems almost necessary.
Forecast
The author takes a new look at 'just war theory.'
Booklist
Temes's philosophical synthesis is nuanced and impressive.
Midwest Book Review
More than just a history . . . considers the idea of 'just war thinking' . . . probing the philosophy behind justifications for war.
Sidney Hyman
With this timely book Peter Temes . . . cuts through the usual polemics about a subject as urgent and complex as it is timeless. . . . A truly admirable book.
Lewis M. Feldstein
Lucidly and intensely Temes engages us in a carefully reasoned, historically rooted, evocative drive to justify war in terms that serve modern conditions.
George Lucas
In this lucid and clearly written book, Peter Temes provides a thorough and balanced assessment of Just War thinking from a variety of cultural and historical perspectives.
Canadian Military Journal - Major Arthur Gans
The book [is] the best single work on the subject of Just War that I have read in the past 20 years.
The Virginia Quarterly Review
Should be a required reading for those who beat war's drum.
Tampa Tribune
Challeng[es] us to form a new moral view of war.
Virginia Quarterly Review
It's hard to imagine a more timely examination of the justifications of war. Should be required reading for those who beat war's drum.
Canadian Military Journal
The book...is...the best single work on the subject of Just War that I have read in the past 20 years.
Major Arthur Gans
Publishers Weekly
Temes, president of Antioch New England Graduate School and author of Against School Reform, delivers a philosophical argument about the ethics of war; he not only wants to inform readers but to convert them as well. His cause, "a personal preoccupation" as he calls it, is just war philosophy, which both accepts war as an inevitability and provides moral imperatives "not only between right and wrong but often between wrong and wrong." Although he intends the book for academics and nonacademics, he relies heavily (but quite lucidly) on a daunting roster of thinkers (Cicero, St. Augustine, Aquinas, Grotius, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, von Clausewitz, Orwell, Arendt and others) to create a moral-historical framework for examining the implications of war. Temes argues that war has evolved from the tribal orientation (with a focus on the honor of the individual) to a more modern notion (with a focus on the geopolitical concerns of the state). In this historical progression, moral burdens have slowly shifted from the individual to the state, and as a result, Temes rightly worries that "we risk a loss of the humane." As an antidote to this loss, just war philosophy condones war only when the war itself sanctifies human life, when it strengthens the principles of individual rights and when its objectives concern the future and not the past. Although a timely and intelligent commentary on the recent war in Iraq, the book's chief gift is its empowerment of the reader to make informed moral observations on future wars, which appear sadly inevitable. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781566635349
Publisher:
Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
Publication date:
10/20/2003
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 8.66(h) x 0.81(d)

What People are saying about this

ARTHUR GANS
The book...is...the best single work on the subject of Just War that I have read in the past 20 years.
CANADIAN MILITARY JOURNAL

Meet the Author

Peter S. Temes is president of the Antioch New England Graduate School and formerly head of the Great Books Foundation. He has taught at every level of American education, including a course on the moral principles of war at Harvard University and the University of Chicago. His most recent book is Against School Reform (And in Praise of Great Teaching). He lives in Fairfield, Connecticut.

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