Over 4000 free audio and video lectures, seminars and teaching resources from Oxford University.
Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Astor Keynote Lecture: What Rights May be Defended by Means of War?

Loading Video...
Duration: 0:55:42 | Added: 11 Apr 2013
Many aims that motivate unjust wars could be achieved without violence if not met with military resistance. So is self-defense against aggression always permissible? Are the values of state sovereignty important enough to justify war in their defense?

Wrongful aggressors often claim to love peace, and there is a sense in which that is true, for they would prefer to get what they want without having to fight a war. Many of the aims that motivate unjust wars could be achieved without violence: for example, control of certain natural resources such as oil, limited political control over another state, the annexation of a bit of its territory, and so on. In such cases, war and killing become necessary for aggressors only if they meet with military resistance. If an aggressor's aims were limited, so that the aggressor would not kill or seriously harm any citizen if it could achieve its goals without violence, would it be permissible for the victims to go to war in self-defense? The traditional assumption is that self-defense against aggression is always permissible. But are the values of state sovereignty and territorial integrity always, or even generally, sufficiently important on their own to justify the resort to war in their defense?

Copy and paste this HTML snippet to embed the audio or video on your site: