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'Duties of Citizenship and Just War' by Dr Massimo Renzo

Posted on 26/07/2017
Dr Massimo Renzo

 

Congratulations to Dr Massimo Renzo, whose paper has received an honourable mention at the Frank Chapman Sharp Memorial Prize, which is awarded biennially by the American Philosophical Association to the best unpublished essay or monograph on the philosophy of war and peace.

Dr Renzo's paper ‘Duties of Citizenship and Just War', discusses what ‘Just War’ theory is and how it is currently dominated by two positions. According to the orthodox view (Walzer), if jus in bello principles are respected, combatants have an equal right to fight, regardless of the justice of the cause pursued by their state.  According to “revisionists” (McMahan, Fabre, Rodin, Tadros, Frowe) whenever combatants lack reasons to believe that the war they are ordered to fight is just, their duty is to disobey. Dr Renzo argues that when members of a legitimate state acting in good faith are ordered to fight, they acquire a pro-tanto obligation to obey which does not depend for its validity on the justice of the cause being pursued. However, when the war is unjust, this obligation may be overridden, under certain conditions, by the obligation not to contribute to the unjustified killing of innocents. This is because (contra Raz) the pro-tanto force of the duty to obey the law is best understood in terms of “presumptive”, rather than “exclusionary” reasons for action. This approach captures the insights of both the orthodox and the revisionist view, while avoiding the problems that afflict each of them.

The Frank Chapman Sharp Memorial Prize, is awarded to the best unpublished essay or monograph on the philosophy of war and peace. This prize honors Frank Chapman Sharp, who was president of the Western Division of the APA in 1907–1908.

Founded in 1900, the American Philosophical Association promotes the discipline and profession of philosophy, both within the academy and in the public arena. The APA supports the professional development of philosophers at all levels and works to foster greater understanding and appreciation of the value of philosophical inquiry.

 

About Dr Massimo Renzo

Dr Massimo Renzo joined The Dickson Poon School of Law in July, 2015 as a Reader in Politics, Philosophy & Law. Previously he was an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick and before that, a Lecturer at the York Law School. He has held visiting appointments at the Australian National University, the universities of Virginia and Arizona, the Centre for Ethics and Public Affairs at the Murphy Institute (Tulane University) and Osgoode Hall’s Nathanson Centre for Transnational Human Rights, Crime & Security. Dr Renzo is an affiliated researcher at the Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War & Peace and the Honorary Secretary of the Society for Applied Philosophy. He is also one of the editors of the journal Criminal Law and Philosophy.

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