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  • Cited by 24
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
June 2017
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Book description

Just war theory focuses primarily on bodily harm, such as killing, maiming, and torture, while other harms are often largely overlooked. At the same time, contemporary international conflicts increasingly involve the use of unarmed tactics, employing 'softer' alternatives or supplements to kinetic power that have not been sufficiently addressed by the ethics of war or international law. Soft war tactics include cyber-warfare and economic sanctions, media warfare, and propaganda, as well as non-violent resistance as it plays out in civil disobedience, boycotts, and 'lawfare.' While the just war tradition has much to say about 'hard' war - bullets, bombs, and bayonets - it is virtually silent on the subject of 'soft' war. Soft War: The Ethics of Unarmed Conflict illuminates this neglected aspect of international conflict.


'For many years, philosophers and military ethicists have focused on the rights and wrongs of physical violence - understandably so. But war can take subtler forms. Economic sanctions, cyber warfare, propaganda, and ‘psyops’ can have dangerous and devastating effects; nonviolence can sometimes prevail over armed might. This superb collection is a pioneering effort to analyze the ethics of ‘soft war.’ The authors include some of the leading theorists of just war, and their essays shed welcome light at a time when we need it. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in today’s conflicts - philosophers, security specialists, military ethicists, and concerned citizens.'

David Luban - Georgetown University, Washington, DC

'Combining fresh ethical thinking about the morality of armed conflict with cutting edge cases drawing on the very latest challenges to the field, this innovative new book pushes beyond established boundaries and presents us with new ways of thinking about the ethics of conflict. Covering a range of issues not hitherto evaluated from a moral perspective - including economic warfare, cyber-warfare and nonviolence, this is an important new volume that not only charts new ground but sets out a new agenda for the future. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the ethical dimensions of world politics.'

Alexander Bellamy - Director of the Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, University of Queensland, Australia

‘This work goes an impressive distance towards addressing the complex web of ethical and legal questions raised by the techniques of soft war …'

Claire Finkelstein Source: International Affairs

'… I found the book profoundly helpful in understanding the nature of war, conflict, and international relations in the twenty-first century.'

Anthony F. Lang, Jr Source: International Studies Review

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