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Archived teaching schedules 2012–2013
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FILA9 Just and Unjust Wars
Period I Period II Period III Period IV
Language of instruction
Type or level of studies
Intermediate studies
Course unit descriptions in the curriculum
Degree Programme in Philosophy
School of Social Sciences and Humanities

Learning outcomes

The course is cancelled.

The course offers an introduction to ethical questions and debates that are linked to war and international politics, and it provides the participants an understanding of different theoretical approaches to the normative study of war. By completing the course the participants will be able to critically engage with contemporary ethical debates that are linked to war, and they can identify challenges and complications just war theory faces.

General description

The course examines different aspects of war with the tools of ‘just war theory’. The prospect and the conduct of war raises plenty of moral questions. When is a country morally entitled to go to war? Are only defensive wars morally permissible, or can some other grounds constitute a sufficient justification for cross-border attacks? For example, do states have a justification – and perhaps even an obligation – to engage in humanitarian interventions in the territories of other states under certain circumstances. What about the morally legitimate means of waging a war? Can a country waging a just war resort to whatever means are available to it to shorten the length of war, or are war efforts constrained by some kind of moral rules? Can, for example, civilians be targeted, and can weapons of mass destruction be used? Is terrorism a tactic of resistance that is never morally permissible? What about torture? Finally, how do the existing international legal instruments compare with the moral obligations states have regarding war? Is there a discord between the legal and the moral spheres of international politics regarding war, and what – if anything – should be done to this possible gap? On the course, these normative questions are examined in the context of historical examples. The objective is to comprehend the link between real-world practices that are related to war and normative theories that give ethical guidance to human actions.

Session 1: The philosophical paradigm of just war theory
Session 2: Pacifism as a moral position
Session 3: Jus ad bellum I: Prevention, pre-emption, self-defence
Session 4: Jus ad bellum II: Humanitarian intervention
Session 5: Jus in bello I: Terrorism
Session 6: Jus in bello II: Torture
Session 7: Jus in bello III: Targeted killings
Session 8: Jus in bello IV: Cyber war
Session 9: Jus in bello IV: Non-combatant immunity
Session 10: Jus in bello V: Prisoners of War
Session 11: Jus post bellum
Session 12: The compatibility of international law and just war theory


Jaakko Kuosmanen, Teacher responsible


25-Mar-2013 – 15-May-2013
The course is cancelled!


Numeric 1-5.