Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Conference about the Army Ethic here and here.

The new American Military Ethic here.

Apparently the US Army is the second largest employer of philosophy majors on LinkedIn. See here.  

research workshop

Disappearing War

Cinema and the politics of erasure in the war on terror

Monday 13th April 2015, Minghella Building, University of Reading, UK

Call for papers:

The war on terror and the battles that have been fought in its name have fueled a rigorous debate about the changing nature of war. Is the war on terror even a war? Should we think of the US-led invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 as large-scale counter-terrorism / counter-insurgency operations rather than wars in the traditional sense? Highlighting the effects of technological advances, drawing on statistics and the alleged precision of modern warfare, some scholars have moved to argue that war is declining and the idea of peace is gaining traction in the world. Others, emphasizing the complex experiences of war, reject claims of war's disappearance. They argue that that it is the geography of wars that is changing and that new spaces such as counter-terrorism operations in the West are increasingly more war-like. What these emerging notions of contemporary war lack is a meaningful engagement with the full extent of collateral damage and the experience of its victims. In more theoretical terms, what is missing from the debate is a focus on the fragmentary evidence on which our knowledge of contemporary war is based. The unprecedented level of technologization and visual mediation that marks the experience of life in the here and now raises an acute question: how do we know war?

The privileged act of analyzing at a remove from the geographical theaters of war entails that we experience the characteristics of modern war by proxy. Specifically, the proliferation of visual media interventions make visible that to which we have no direct access. As a consequence, visual media becomes the new battle ground for war to take place, shaping understandings of what war is, what it does and what it does not do. Cinema, with its wide reach and powerful affective potential, has the ability to make visible to us, and in a sense allows us to experience, the wars from which we are physically removed. At the same time, the ability of cinema to select what we see engenders a necessarily partial view which carries the risk that wars’ brutality is simply erased from the picture.

The workshop seeks to address these different processes of erasure and their consequences for our understanding of modern wars: What is made visible, and what is not? How do we experience what we see and hear? What are the consequences of these impressions and experiences for our understanding of contemporary wars?

We invite 20-minute papers on the above topic, and particularly welcome those that address some of the following questions:


• Can we view the body as a site of war?

• Are hotel, boardrooms and offices the new battlefields?

• How can we characterize these recent arenas, protocols and technologies of war and counter-terrorism?

• To what extent do 9/11 and the War on Terror represent a ‘break’ or shift away from traditional conceptions of battleground and fighting?

• Are notions of absence and presence reconfigured in this new technological and geopolitical context, through war ‘at a distance’, fighting ‘by proxy’? .

Bodies and death

• To what extent do we see an avoidance of death and dying in the visualization of war and counter-terrorism?

• Are other processes of erasure at work, such as the erasure of the victims of collateral damage, such as in the so-called ‘precision bombing’ of Iraq and Afghanistan?


• Might we view the technologies of war and of its visualization as technologies of erasure?

• Does this challenge the idea that modern war technologies allow a totalizing vision?

• What are the socio-political and cultural consequences of erasure for how we know war?

Narratives of war:

• What kind of narratives do we actually encounter about war these days?

• How do forms of fiction and non-fiction filmmaking intersect with real-world geopolitical, social and cultural narratives?

• How are narratives of loss and trauma, causality, heroism, and moral imperatives expressed, complicated and interrogated by forms of fiction and non-fiction filmmaking?

• How does cinema negotiate a path between representation and politics?

Please send proposals of 300-500 words, 5 keywords and a brief biographical note to Christina Hellmich <> and Lisa Purse <> by 1st September 2014. We hope to offer some travel bursaries to speakers.

The workshop is hosted by the Department of Politics and International Relations and the Department of Film, Theatre and Television under the FAHSS Rights and Representation research theme, and is supported by the Centre for Ways of War and the Centre for Film Aesthetics and Cultures at the University of Reading.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gaza and ethics

I generally find it the epitome of colonialist hubris to think it proper to impose traditional Christian Just War principles (like proportionality, proper authority, etc) on a conflict that is largely being fought between Muslim and Jewish political entities. I will have talk about that some other time though, perhaps when I figure out what it is about Israel that makes every philosopher want to be a pundit. Here is a set of links pointing to discussions by ethicists about the Gaza conflict. I leave you, dear reader, to decide who to take seriously and who not to. (H/T for most of these to the Daily Nous. I may update from time to time.)

NPR has a discussion between Michael Walzer, Lionel McPherson, and Michael Newton here.
Michael Walzer in the New Republic here.
Jeff McMahan in Prospect here.
David Enoch in Haaretz here.
Francis Kamm in the Boston Review here.
Assaf Sharon also in the Boston Review here.
Peter Singer in Project Syndicate here.
(Related) Jason Stanley in the Frankfurter Allgemeine here.
Daniel Levine at the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland here.
Civic Engagement in Philosophy Classes here.
Samir Chopra on his blog here.
Curtis Franks at the Leiter Report here.
Jerry Haber at the Magnes Zionist here.
On Hanoch Sheinman here.
Mary Margaret McCabe here.
Asa Kasher here