Professor of Philosophy Steven P. Lee’s academic study titled “Ethics and War: An Introduction” has been published by Cambridge University Press. “Ethics and War” presents the basic principles of just war theory and outlines how they’ve evolved historically, including how they should be applied in contemporary warfare.
In his book, Lee examines the role of state sovereignty and individual human rights in the moral foundations of just war theory, while addressing a range of related topics such as humanitarian intervention, preventive war, civil war, terrorism, and the moral status of civilians and enemy combatants. Within his discussion of the ethical challenges posed by the changing nature of war, he considers both the justice of going to war (jus ad bellum) and the justice in the conduct of war (jus in bello).
In a review of the book, Joseph M. Betz, professor emeritus at Villanova University, notes: “This book deserves to become a classic… Titling it ‘an introduction’ is misleading. It begins with two standards introductory to the field, jus ad bellum and jus in bello, but then Lee’s scholarship drastically complicates things. The author’s brilliant historical research shows that the way these standards are understood varies greatly, depending on whether they are treated in the just war paradigm, the regular war paradigm, or the human rights paradigm. Thus, the six traditional jus ad bellum and the three traditional jus in bello criteria can mean very different things in different paradigms. Not only that, but the two standards are expanded to include three more, jus extendere bellum, jus post bellum, and jus in abolitione belli. Lee draws on authors from all historical periods in his 225 item bibliography and 686 footnotes to argue for and against the questions framing each topic. Lee has an encyclopedic knowledge of the literature and the most simple topics divide before his powerful mind into, at first, the most troublesome complex parts, but then, finally, after his examination, the most revealing parts. The adopted and rejected positions are primarily applied to wars of the contemporary era.”
“Ethics and War” is the third book authored by Lee. “Morality, Prudence, and Nuclear Weapons” was published in 1993, and “What Is the Argument? Critical Thinking in the Real World” was published in 2002. He is also the co-author (with HWS colleagues) of “Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear States, and Terrorism,” editor of “Intervention, Terrorism, and Torture: Contemporary Challenges to Just War Theory” and co-editor of “Ethics and Weapons of Mass Destruction” and “Nuclear Weapons and the Future of Humanity.”
After receiving his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Delaware, Lee went on to earn his Ph.D. from York University, Toronto. He joined the Colleges faculty in 1981 and is currently holding the Donald R. Harter ’39 endowed Professorship in Humanities, which has given him the opportunity to explore in-depth the philosophy of war. Lee is a member of the American Philosophical Association, and the Creighton Club (New York State Philosophical Association). He is the past president of Concerned Philosophers for Peace, and the current president of Amintaphil (the American branch of the International Society for Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy) Though he writes a great deal about war, he is a man of peace.