Tag Archives: war

Damien Keown

In marked contrast to the view of Islam about the fate of warriors who die in a holy war, the Buddha expresses the view in the Sutta Nipāta that soldiers who die in battle go not to a special paradise but to a special hell, since at the moment of death their minds were bent on killing.

Damien Keown, Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford, 2013, p. 122

G. H. Hardy

[T]here is one purpose at any rate which the real mathematics may serve in war. When the world is mad, a mathematician may find in mathematics an incomparable anodyne. For mathematics is, of all the arts and sciences, the most austere and the most remote, and a mathematician should be of all men the one who can most easily take refuge where, as Bertrand Russell says, “one at least of our nobler impulses can best escape from the dreary exile of the actual world.”

G. H. Hardy, A Mathematician’s Apology, Cambridge, 1940, sect. 28

Jason Brennan

Looking back, […] almost every war every country has fought was a mistake. When we consider fighting a new war, we are tempted to believe this war is an exception to the rule. But this belief is itself unexceptional.

Jason Brennan, Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know, Oxford, 2012, pp. 80-81

Dylan Matthews

Morality in foreign policy isn’t about bombing bad guys. It’s about helping people. And usually, the best way to do that won’t involve bombings at all.

Dylan Matthews, ‘The Best Way the US Could Help Syrians: Open the Borders’, Vox, September 4, 2015

Steven Pinker

The logic of the Leviathan can be summed up in a triangle. In every act of violence, there are three interested parties: the aggressor, the victim, and a bystander. Each has a motive for violence: the aggressor to prey upon the victim, the victim to retaliate, the bystander to minimize collateral damage from their fight. Violence between the combatants may be called war; violence by the bystander against the combatants may be called law. The Leviathan theory, in a nutshell, is that law is better than war.

Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, New York, 2011, p. 35

Dale Jamieson

What armies do very well is to kill people and smash things; what they are not is humanitarian organizations.

Dale Jamieson, ‘Duties to the Distant’, The Journal of Ethics, vol. 9, nos. 1-2 (March, 2005), p. 163

Getchen Vogel

With so many cooperative tendencies built into human brains, whether by genes or culture or both, why isn’t there more harmony in the world? Unfortunately, notes Boyd, one of humans’ most successful cooperative endeavors is making war. “All that increased cooperation has done is change the scale on which conflict takes place,” he says. “I would like to think there’s a happy story of peace and understanding. But you can’t be a 21st century human and not see that the trend is in the other direction.”

Getchen Vogel, ‘The Evolution of the Golden Rule’, Science, vol. 303, no. 5561 (February 20, 2004), p. 1131

Peter Singer

The clearest sign of a Christian, and more specifically evangelical, influence on Bush’s ethics is his repeated invocation of a conflict between good and evil. We have seen that Bush often talks of “the evil ones” and even occasionally of those who are “servants of evil.” He urges us to “call evil by its name,” to “fight evil” and tells us that out of evil will come good. This language comes straight out of apocalyptic Christianity. To understand the context in which Bush uses this language, we need to remember that tens of millions of Americans hold an apocalyptic view of the world. According to a poll taken by Time, 53 percent of adult Americans “expect the imminent return of Jesus Christ, accompanied by the fulfillment of biblical prophecies concerning the cataclysmic destruction of all that is wicked.” One of the signs of the apocalypse that will precede the Second Coming of Christ is the rise of the Antichrist, the ultimate enemy of Christ, who heads Satan’s forces in the battle that will culminate in the triumph of the forces of God, and the creation of the Kingdom of God on earth. Projecting this prophecy onto the world in which they live, many American Christians see their own nation as carrying out a divine mission. The nation’s enemies therefore are demonized. That is exactly what Bush does. When, during a discussion about the looming war with Iraq with Australian Prime Minister John Howard in February 2003, Bush said that liberty for the people of Iraq would not be a gift that the United States could provide, but rather, “God’s gift to every human being in the world,” he seemed to be suggesting that there was divine endorsement for a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein. David Frum, Bush’s speechwriter at the time of his “axis of evil” speech, says of Bush’s use of the term “evil ones” for the people behind 9/11: “In a country where almost two-thirds of the population believes in the devil, Bush was identifying Osama bin Laden and his gang as literally satanic.”

Peter Singer, The President of Good and Evil, New York, 2004, pp. 202-203

Bertrand Russell

I think every big town should contain artificial waterfalls that people could descend in very fragile canoes, and they should contain bathing pools full of mechanical sharks. Any person found advocating a preventive war should be condemned to two hours a day with these ingenious monsters.

Bertrand Russell, ‘Nobel Lecture’, Decenber 11, 1950

Tulio Halperín Donghi

En 1995 una obra de ciencia política alcanzó un eco poco habitual entre las de esa disciplina gracias a un título afortunado—Jihad versus McWorld—que presentaba la resistencia del mundo islámico como la más sistemática e intransigente entre las afrontadas por una globalización que se encamina a reconfigurar el mundo sobre el modelo de los Estados Unidos; ocho años después, la desazón con que se vive el presente debe sin duda mucho al descubrimiento de que ni aun McWorld está inmune de la seducción que puede ejercer la guerra santa.

Tulio Halperín Donghi, ‘Mientras espero la guerra’, Clarín, February 19, 2003