Skip to main content
padlock icon - secure page this page is secure

THE MORALITY, POLITICS, AND IRONY OF WAR: Recovering Reinhold Niebuhr's Ethical Realism

Buy Article:

$43.00 + tax (Refund Policy)

ABSTRACT

The American experience of war is ironic. That is, there is often an intimate and unexamined relationship between seemingly contrary elements in war such as morality and politics. This article argues that without understanding such irony, we are unlikely to reflect in morally comprehensive ways on past, present, or future wars. Traditional schools of thought, however, such as moralism and political realism, reinforce these apparent contradictions. I propose, then, an alternative—“ethical realism” as informed by Reinhold Niebuhr—that better explains the irony of war. Through an ethical realist examination of the U.S. Civil War, World War II, and the Iraq War, I consider how American political interests have been inextricably linked with deep moral concerns. Ethical realism charts a middle path that ennobles traditional realpolitik while eschewing certain perfectionist tendencies of moralism. Ethical realism provides a conceptual framework for evaluating these other frameworks—a distinct form of moral-political deliberation about war.
No References
No Citations
No Supplementary Data
No Article Media
No Metrics

Keywords: Iraq War; Reinhold Niebuhr; U.S. Civil War; World War II; ethical realism; just war; moralism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Religious StudiesArizona State UniversityP.O. Box 873104Tempe, AZ 85287-3104480.727.0694, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 December 2008

  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
X
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more