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Always interested in offers/projects/new ideas. Eclectic experience in fields like: numerical computing; Python web; Java enterprise; functional languages; GPGPU; SQL databases; etc. Based in Santiago, Chile; telecommute worldwide. CV; email.

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Arguing About War (notes)

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Thu, 2 Feb 2006 12:09:54 -0300 (CLST)

This thread is for notes on Michael Walzer's book.

The emphasis on community in "supreme emergency" leads to the manipulation
of identity as a means for justifying abuse.  This is a clear extension of
populist politics in other realms.

"Supreme emergencies" are rare (p 46).  Is this sufficiently emphasized?

How does "supreme emergency" relate to "the ticking bomb"?  Conversely,
what do arguments against the ticking bomb tell us about supreme
emergencies?  And  why is the "ticking bomb" so much less stringent (it's
not a ticking doomsday device)?

Andrew

General Approach

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2006 11:05:10 -0300 (CLST)

This book makes me uncomfortable.  The detailed conclusions are typically
sensible and hedged with qualifications, but the more general approach
seems to be motivated by external interests.

Perhaps this is a result of collecting together lectures/talks rather than
writing a coherent book?  Maybe the "external interests" come from the
context of each talk?  If so, it might have been better to leave in
references to the context (I am happy to be talking to ... tonight).

For example, the chapter on extreme emergencies" appeared to be motivated
by a need to justify the British bombing of German cities in WWII.  Fair
enough.  But then the next chapter, on terrorism, starts with the
statement that terrorism is always unacceptable.  Which seems odd, given
that we've just finished arguing that there are cases when it's ok to kill
civillians en masse.  Now the text addresses this, but it's something of
an afterthought, leaving the impression that the author is choosing
conclusions and then defending them, rather than trying to explore the
issues to find a consistent set of moral guidelines.

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