Comparative Ethics of War

Led by Gregory M. Reichberg

Jan 2007 – Dec 2010


This project will examine how different religious traditions have, both historically and today, approached the ethics of war. The religions to be covered include Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. The research will be carried out by an international team of scholars, each of whom is a specialist on a specific religious tradition. The project will have three main components: (a) a set of individual research projects resulting in the publication of articles or books; (b) the compilation of an anthology of primary sources from the different religious traditions on the ethics of war; (c) annual workshops, in which the project contributors will meet to discuss both their individual projects and their input to the anthology of primary sources.

The project will incorporate nine individual sub-projects, each of which will result in a monograph or journal article(s). Most of these will examine historical trends in religious thinking about the normative aspects of war. Others will consider how religious viewpoints have informed debates both about specific conflict situations, and issues in contemporary military ethics (a set of individual project abstracts is provided below).

  • Gregory Reichberg (PRIO), a monograph on the Christian conception of peace in the writings of Thomas Aquinas and his contemporary exponents.
  • Amira Sonbol, Georgetown University (USA), a monograph on Islam and the Ethics of War.
  • Yuri Stoyanov, University of London and the Kenyon Institute (Jerusalem), a monograph on the military-religious orders in Christianity and Islam in the Middle Ages and the Ottoman period; and two articles about apocalyptic warfare in Eastern and Western Christianity.
  • Mahinda Deegalle, Bath Spa University (U.K.), a monograph on the rhetoric of armed conflict in the parliamentary politics of Buddhist Monks in Sri Lanka; and an article on the ideas of war in Sinhala Buddhist literature of Sri Lanka.
  • Kaushik Roy, Presidency College (Calcutta), a monograph on military ethics and theories of warfare in India.
  • Henrik Syse (PRIO), two articles on the contrast between two normative approaches to war within Western Christanity: virtue ethics and deontological ethics.
  • Torkel Brekke (Institute of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo), two articles, (i) on the ethics of war in the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, (ii), on the conception of ethical warfare in the Sikh tradition.
  • Jack Bemporad, Pontifical University of St. Thomas (Rome), and Director of the Center for Interreligious Understanding (New Jersey), Maimonides on War and Justice.
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