Jim and Pedro

Geoffrey Best

The self-effacing authors of this excellent book aim to contribute some clear-headedness and penetration to what ought to be our great debate, but is too often our puzzle-headed mumble, about war. So exemplary is the clarity of their rich, varied and powerful argument that their hopes may well be realised. Good books about ethics and warfare – that is, books which can meet the military and political ‘realists’ on their own grounds, without sacrificing moral principle – are not as rare as they used to be. Gallie and Walzer come at once to mind. But none is as unusual as this: a book co-authored by a philosopher and a historian, both of whom are possessed by the notion that people are more likely to take ethics seriously if connections with hard, familiar cases are not shirked, and who share a standpoint of modified Kantianism which encourages them to believe that moral awareness and concern can be elicited and educated from even the rather unpromising human subjects which most of us are.

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