The Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace is funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, and based in the Philosophy Department at Stockholm University. SCEWP is directed by Helen Frowe, Professor of Practical Philosophy and Knut and Alice Wallenberg Scholar at Stockholm.

SCEWP’s purpose is to explore the ethics of war and mechanisms for peace in the 21st century. Over the years, our research has broadened to include a wide range of philosophical and practical problems connected to war, such as the nature and scope of our duties to rescue, the ethics of immigration, responsibility for war crimes, and the protection of cultural heritage in war, as well as more familiar questions about just causes for war, the ethics of foreign intervention, and the just fighting of war. Our research has a strong theoretical dimension, addressing fundamental questions of rights, duties, authority,  and moral justification. It also has a strong applied dimension, which brings this theoretical research to bear on specific problems both within and outside of war.

Theoretical Approaches to War

SCEWP’s research focuses, in part, 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 unjustified war and inflicting unjustified harm, the fact that they are following the orders of their state makes their killings importantly morally different from unjustified killings in ordinary, domestic life.

In recent years, a view known as reductivism has challenged this approach to war. Reductivists deny that there are different moral rules for war in favour of the view that morality is ‘all of a piece’. On this view, the rules that prohibit or permit our actions in war are the same rules that prohibit or permit our actions in other spheres of life. Many reductivists also adopt a largely individualist approach to the ethics of war, focusing on the moral rights and duties of individuals rather than those of collectives. This different theoretical approach to the morality of war undermines various central tenets of the traditional collectivist view, including the moral equality of combatants and the moral immunity of non-combatants. Research at SCEWP explores this debate and its implications for the ethics of war.

Practical Issues in War and Peace

SCEWP also carries out philosophically robust research on specific aspects of war and reconciliation, such as:

  • Just causes for war
  • The notion of legitimate authority
  • The ethics of assisting rebellions and revolutions
  • The ethics of immigration
  • Civilian immunity
  • Terrorism
  • The protection of cultural heritage sites in war
  • Responsibility for war crimes
  • The use of UAVs (drones)
  • Humanitarian intervention
  • Force protection and the distribution of risk in war

Through our many conferences, workshops, talks and other events, SCEWP aims to inform and improve philosophical, public and policy debates about the ethics of war and peace.

Bülow’s new paper, ‘Risking Civilian Lives to Avoid Harm to Cultural Heritage?’, published in JSEP

SCEWP post-doc, William Bülow, has a new paper out on whether it is morally permissible to impose non-negligible risks of serious harm  on innocent civilians in order not to endanger tangible cultural heritage during armed conflict.

As with all papers at the Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, it is open access. Check it out here:

Published 28th September 2020

SCEWP hires new post-doc, Joseph Bowen!

We are delighted to announce that Joseph Bowen has joined us as Postdoctoral Researcher. Joe has recently finished his PhD at the University of St Andrews and University of Stirling. He specialises in moral and political philosophy, focusing on the nature of rights, directed duties, and permissible harming. Find out more about Joe here.

Published 4th August 2020

Symposium on Causation in War

Symposium on Causation in War‘, a result of SCEWP and Kings College London’s ‘Conversations on War’ project, is out now in the Journal of Applied Philosophy! Check out articles by Carolina Sartorio, Helen Beebee & Alex Kaiserman, and Lars Christie, with an introduction from Helen Frowe & Massimo Renzo.

The Conversations on War project ‘explores how philosophers working on the ethics of war can draw on researchin other areas of philosophy to improve our accounts of harming in war and how research on the ethics of war might challenge or illuminate work in those other areas.The first instance of this project brought together a broad group of philosophers: Helen Frowe, Massimo Renzo, Victor Tadros, Yitzhak Benbaji, Helen Beebee, David Owens, Carolina Sartorio, Lars Christie, James Goodrich, Seth Lazar, Adam Slavny, Hagit Benbaji, François Tanguay-Renaud, Lisa Hecht, Alexander Kaiserman, and Gustaf Arrhenius.’

Published 4th August 2020

SCEWP director Helen Frowe awarded 8.75M SEK Wallenberg Academy Fellowship extension

Helen Frowe has been awarded a five-year prolongation of her Wallenberg Academy Fellowship from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. Over the next five years, she will develop an account of the ethics of foreign intervention. The project will explore the relationship between agent-relative prerogatives and duties to save, the permissibility of wars of intervention, and the ethics of indirect intervention, such as arming and training members of rebel groups. Information about events and vacancies will appear on the Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace website.

Published 4th December 2017

Ethical War Blog Post Wins Prize!

Congratulations to Michael Robillard (Oxford) and Bradley Strawser (Naval Postgraduate School) whose post “Are Soldiers Morally Exploited?” won the the American Philosophical Association’s (APA) 2017 Public Philosophy Op-Ed Contest. See here for more details.

Published 1st July 2017