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Debate: ‘Justice in War’

America is often harshly criticized at home and abroad for its conduct in war, not just by “doves” hoping to restrain American military might but also by “hawks” seeking more vigorous military action. So what does morality require of America in war? Is a vigorous defense of American interests abroad compatible with justice? What are the military’s obligations toward the civilians of an enemy nation? What is the moral response to today’s pressing problem of global terrorism? On Tuesday, March 13th, Dr. Yaron Brook and Dr. Martin Cook will debate these questions at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

What: Debate on “Justice in War” with Dr. Martin Cook and Dr. Yaron Brook

Where: Wittemeyer Courtroom, Wolf Law Building, University of Colorado at Boulder

When: Tuesday, March 13th, 2007, 8:00 to 9:30 p.m.

About the Debate: Dr. Martin Cook: For centuries the “just war tradition” has provided a moral framework for assessing the justification for the use of military force and also the methods for its application. The “sole remaining superpower” status of the United States, coupled with the exigencies of the “war on terror” (or “the long war”) raise questions about the continued applicability of that tradition. Dr. Cook will examine this question and note areas where existing just war standards (especially as codified in International Law) are challenged by this new strategic environment.

Dr. Yaron Brook: America’s failed “War on Terrorism” is the result, not of any practical inability to defeat the Islamic Totalitarian movement and its state sponsors, but its leaders’ moral unwillingness to wage all-out war in self-defense. American leaders accept the altruistic code of “Just War Theory,” which demands that a nation follow self-sacrificial restrictions for the sake of its enemies and their supporters. Dr. Brook will advocate an alternative theory of war based on Ayn Rand’s ethics of rational egoism, arguing that a government is right to go to war whenever the rights of its citizens are threatened by a foreign aggressor and to do anything necessary to defeat the enemy and return to normal life.

This debate is free and intended for the public. Members of the media are encouraged to attend. For further information on the series or to arrange interviews of the speakers, contact Dr. Robert Pasnau at (303) 492-4837 or [email protected].

About the Debaters: Dr. Martin L. Cook is Professor of Philosophy and Deputy Department Head at the United States Air Force Academy. He has lectured widely in the United States to military and civilian audiences, as well as delivered invited lectures to the military educational institutions of the United Kingdom, Ecuador, Norway, Singapore, and Australia. His most recent book is The Moral Warrior: Ethics and Service in the US Military.

Dr. Yaron Brook is president and executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. A former finance professor, he has published in academic as well as popular publications. In addition to his frequent interviews by the media, he lectures on Objectivism, business ethics, and foreign policy at college campuses and for corporations across America and throughout the world. He is the co-author of “‘Just War Theory’ vs. American Self-Defense” published in The Objective Standard, Spring 2006.

About Think!: This debate is sponsored by “Think!”—a public lectures series of the Center for Values and Social Policy in the Philosophy Department of the University of Colorado at Boulder. For more information about “Think!” please visit: http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/center/think.shtml. All “Think!” events are funded through the generosity of The Collins Foundation.


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