Political Theory

Moral Responsibility in War


This conference explored the issue of the moral responsibility of decision-makers in time of war. Military decision-makers might face the dilemma between pursuing their legitimate military objectives and violating their moral responsibility, or respecting their moral responsibility and failing to achieve their military objectives. The conferees explored various approaches that have been proposed for resolving this dilemma.


Conference Readings

Brandt, Richard B. “Utilitarianism and the Rules of War.” Philosophy and Public Affairs (1972): 145-165.

Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. Translated by Adams, Robert M.. New York: Norton, 1991.

Melville, Herman . Billy Budd, Sailor and Other Stories by Herman Melville. New York: Bantam Classics, 1982.

Mendus, Susan, “Innocent Before God: Politics, Morality and the Case of Billy Budd” In Political Philosophy, edited by O'Hear, Anthony, 23-38. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Nagel, Thomas. “War and Massacre.” Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (1972): 123-144.

Walzer, Michael. “Political Action: The Problem of Dirty Hands.” Philosophy and Public Affairs 2 (1973): 160-180.