Problems of War and Peace

Prof. David Blitz

This study will focus on the problems of war and peace, considered from a number of different, but related, perspectives:

1. Historically: What have been the significant wars over the course of history, in particular, western history? What lessons can we learn about the onset, development, and ending of wars? Why do wars feature so prominently in history, whereas peace does not? (as an object of study). What can we learn from recent conflicts in South East Asia, the Middle East and the Balkans?

2. Philosophically: How can we analyze the relationship between the concepts of war and peace? What is meant by "just war" (Aquinas); "perpetual peace" (Kant), "moral equivalent of war" (James), "non-absolute pacifism" (Russell, Einstein)? Can these concepts be of use in understanding the historical transitions from peace to war, or the future of peace?

3. Topically: What do we mean by terms such as "war crimes", "mutual assured destruction", "missile defense" which play or have played such an important role in recent discussions of war, both conventional and nuclear?

There are other approaches as well, of which the following is important, but not a focus of this study. It will be mentioned from time to time where relevant:

4. Scientifically: Can we better understand the nature of war through the statistical analysis of the outbreak, duration, intensity, and conclusions of wars? Does the application of game-theory to the risk of war help us understand these phenomena? Can a scientific analysis of wars enable us to predict or prevent their occurrence?

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