The Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace is funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. It is based in the Philosophy Department at Stockholm University and directed by Helen Frowe, who is Knut and Alice Wallenberg Fellow in Practical Philosophy.
SCEWP’s purpose is to explore the ethics of war and mechanisms for peace in the 21st century. Our research has two main strands:
Theoretical Approaches to War
This aspect of SCEWP’s research focuses on broad, theoretical issues concerning the nature of the morality of war. Historically, just war theory has been dominated by strongly collectivist approaches to war that treat war as a morally distinctive relationship between states. Adherents to this traditional view argue that, in at least some respects, war is to be judged by its own moral rules and cannot be judged by the moral rules that apply to individuals in ordinary life. For example, we might think that even when combatants are engaged in an unjust war, the fact that they are following the orders of their state makes their killings importantly morally different from unjust killings in ordinary domestic life.
In recent years, a revisionist view known as reductive individualism has challenged this collectivist approach to war. These revisionists believe that the moral rules governing war can, in fact, be reduced to the moral rules of ordinary life, and that the morality of war is to be understood in terms of the moral rights and duties of individuals – most obviously, their rights of self-defence and other-defence. This different theoretical approach to the moral underpinnings of war has undermined various central tenets of the traditional collectivist view. Research at SCEWP explores this debate and its implications for the ethics of war.
Practical Issues in War
SCEWP also carries out philosophically robust research concerning specific aspects of war and reconciliation, such as:
- Just causes for war
- The notion of legitimate authority
- Civil war
- Civilian immunity
- The prosecution of war crimes
- The use of UAVs (drones)
- Humanitarian intervention
- Force protection and the distribution of risk in war
Through a series of conferences, workshops, public lectures and other events, the Centre aims to inform and improve public and policy debates about the ethics of war.