For a Kinder, Gentler Society
A Philosophy of War
  • Alexander Moseley
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A Philosophy of War.
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In a snappily-written discussion, Moseley presents an interdisciplinary framework for understanding war’s nature and causation. Considering war from all angles–Christian, Marxist, Platonic, behavioralist, economic, psychological, and biological–he argues that market-based societies should tend to foster cooperation more than combat.

About the Author

Dr. Moseley was an Assistant Professor for the University of Evansville (1996-2000) teaching Ethics, British History, and Economics. He earned his doctorate from the University of Edinburgh in 1997 and an MA in Economics from York University, Ontario in 1993.

He has published several introductory essays on war and political philosophy with the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy and has critical articles with the journals Peace and Change and Moral Musings; he also contributes articles to the Foundation for Economic Education's Ideas for Liberty. He has lectured on the philosophy and morality of war at several British Universities including for the Hayek Society at the London School of Economics. He is an active member of the Society for Applied Philosophy, recently co-convening the 2001 Annual Conference with Professor Richard Norman, the proceedings of which Ashgate [UK] will be publishing in Spring 2002 as Human Rights and Military Intervention.

Dr Moseley is area editor in political philosophy for the IEP and is affiliated with the Mises Institute and with the US Society for Philosophy in a Contemporary World.

About the Book

"War's origins are complex: they are found in the nebulous systems of thoughts generated in cultures over time. But while reason and explication can unravel...

"War's origins are complex: they are found in the nebulous systems of thoughts generated in cultures over time. But while reason and explication can unravel those origins-and explain why man wages war-the task of abolishing war can never be completed by reason alone.The unfolding philosophy of war is much more complex than asserting that 'man is free to choose war and therefore he is free to not choose war.' We need to explore the causal relationships between his nature and his thinking, and in doing so we need to explore the realms of ideas that motivate and restrain him."

The author presents a unique interdisciplinary framework for understanding war's nature and causation, examining biological and anthropological theories as well as relating traditional philosophical positions to war. This book is distinctive in producing a coherent theory of war that goes beyond the usual analyses and explanations generated in academic sub-disciplines. The range of philosophical analysis is broad and where appropriate the author applies his philosophical outline to particular conflicts such as the Vietnam War and the Thirty Years War.

Table of Contents
CHAPTER ONE: Why a Philosophy of War? CHAPTER TWO: Defining War Defining War Contextua

CHAPTER ONE: Why a Philosophy of War?

CHAPTER TWO: Defining War

Defining War

Contextual Understanding


Animal Warfare

Primitive Warfare

Civilized or Political War

Modern Warfare

Nuclear Warfare

Post-Modern Warfare


CHAPTER FOUR: Metaphysics and the Non-Inevitability of War

War: Determinism and Materialism

CHAPTER FIVE: Human Nature and War

Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existentialism






CHAPTER SIX: War And Human Biology

War and Instinct



The Weakness of Instinctivism


Aggressionism and Natural Selection

Aggressionism and Frustration

War and Inhibitions

CHAPTER SEVEN: Between Biology and Culture



Competing Motives and Co-operation

Predispositions and Motive

Irrational Motives

Morale: The Private and The Warrior Spirit


CHAPTER EIGHT: Culture and War


War and Culture

The Persistence of Culture: Bohemia

CHAPTER NINE: Unintentional War


Civilization and War

The Nature of Civilization

CHAPTER ELEVEN: Rationalism and War

The Rationalist Theory of War

Political Realism

Descriptive Realism

Prescriptive Realism

The Failure of Realism: the Vietnam War


CHAPTER TWELVE: Idealism, Metaphysical Beliefs and War

Metaphysical Beliefs

The Status of Ideas

Metaphysical Beliefs and War

Teleological theories and War



Free Will Revisited

CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Epistemological Beliefs and War

Epistemological and Action

Epistemological Elitism

Irrationalism and Faith


CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Conclusions On War And Peace



CHOICE March 2003 Vol. 40 No. 07 HUMANITIES | More »

Pages 280
Year: 2002
LC Classification: B105.W3 M67
Dewey code: 355.02'01
BISAC: HIS027000
BISAC: TEC025000
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-1-892941-94-7
Price: USD 21.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-1-892941-95-4
Price: USD 28.95
ISBN: 978-0-87586-183-8
Price: USD 21.95
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