Research update

Warfare of the Post-Heroic Age: structures and correlations


  1. Introduction. War as a matter of philosophy.

1.1.       Philosophy of war as a branch of practical philosophy.

1.2.       Historic-philosophic premises of philosophy of war. Realists and abolitionists.

2. What is war? The problem of definition of war.

2.1.       Traditional (descriptive) definitions. Clausewitz’ impact to the First World War.

2.2.       Normative definitions. Sir Basil Liddel Hart’s “indirect approach”.

3. Ethical dimensions of modern wars.

3.1.       Ethos and ethics of conventional war.

3.2.       Humanitarian interventions.

3.3.       Informational warfare.

3.4.       Network warfare.

3.5.       Existentia militaria: extraethical justifications of self-defense and self-sacrifice.

4. Conclusion.


Among numerous philosophic fields of research like philosophy of law, language, logic, mind, science, biology, history, society etc had emerged new discipline – philosophy of war. Though philosophers from Heraclitus to Bernard Henri-Levy were always interested in war and projects of eternal peace, military theory and history, the independent discipline was established just recently by Alexander Moseley, author of book “Philosophy of war”.

So late emergence of philosophy of war after centuries of warfare (approximately 14.5 thousands of wars, over 4 billion of causalities only in known history) and 27 centuries of philosophy cannot but amaze, especially regarding conceptual similarity of philosophic and strategic thinking, of military intelligence and epistemology, also including ethical, existential, metaphysical issues of war and related problems. Moreover, the question of influence of philosophy to thinking of military strategists is not cleared enough (except the correlation found between franco-german idealism, anglo-american empiricism and military history), the concept of war still remains undefined correctly.

In these conditions any systematic scholarship will dare to be pioneer. My research is intended not only to be amending to Alexander Moseley’s work, but also it will differ from methodological standpoint. I build my research in the mainstream of analytic philosophy, with actualizing methods of logical atomism and informal logic, keeping in mind F.P.Ramsey’s idea of philosophy, which “has to clear our thoughts”. The complexity of military history and its theoretical background, ethical, economical. legal, cultural dimensions of war need to be disclosed by means of methodology which would be external against mentioned disciplines and simultaneously it should be adequate to the subject of inquiry.

Analytic philosophy of war, unlike previous attempts of classic philosophers to build a kind of ideology which had to substitute doctrines that lead to international armed conflicts, endeavors to clear out the basic concepts, doctrines and structures of theories related to military science, art and history together with relevant disciplines like philosophy of law, economics and political science.

As a result of my research will be critically analyzed the basic concepts of military science, main trends of military history, fundamental controversies that forbid to accept war as a mean of solving conflicts.

Trough centuries philosophers have speculated about war – what causes them, the best ways of waging wars, and how to reach peace. This question has divided philosophers into two groups: realists (those who considered war as inevitable, even desirable) and abolitionists (who tried to find out ways of social improvement to overcome wars). Tradition of realists was born in Presocratic era, when Heraclites proclaimed that “war is father of all things”; Plato had built a model of ideal state according to military organized society; medieval Christian thought was more conservative, but nevertheless realistic: St. Thomas argued that peace is the highest aim of society, but he acknowledged the duty of monarchs to defend their states (see Summa Theologiae, question 40); Dante in his “De Monarchia” contended that peace is achievable by rule of global law, maintained by force; Francisco Suarez defended idea of just wars together with his follower Hugo Grotius (De Iure Belli ac Pacis Libri Tres); Sir Thomas More showed pragmatic view to wars (they could be possible in cases of struggle for economic interests or defending of allies); Niccolo Machiavelli wrote “The prince is condemned to seek victory in war merely in order to survive in the hostile world” and peace is possible only if the global commonwealth would be established; unlike Thomas Hobbes, who thought that war is state of nature, John Locke distinguishes wars fought for natural rights and those which do not have this reason; Hegel believed war was the catalyst through which history unfolded its purpose; philosophers of communism dreamed about war as a sole mean to reach “bright future”.

Abolitionists, continuing spirit of Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata” presented Stoic doctrine of unity of mankind which was alike the doctrine of non-violence of early Christianity. Another essential trend was established by Desiderius Erasmus in his work “Anti-Polemus” where he explained fatal contradiction between actions of men in wartime and divine purpose of mankind which exclude any sort of violence at all. Writings of Late Renaissance and Modern Era aimed to find out new, radically different systems of state and society which had to eliminate wars (Duke of Sully (“The Grand Design”, 1620-1635), John Bellers (“Some Reasons for an European State”, 1710), Emeric Cruce (“The New Cyneas, or Discourse of the Occasion and Means to Establish a General Peace and the Liberty of Commerce throughout the World”, 1623), William Penn (“An Essay towards the Present and Future Peace of Europe”, 1693), Abbe de Saint-Pierre (“A Project for Settling an Everlasting Peace in Europe“, 1713). European Enlightenment represented by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (“A Project of Perpetual Peace”, 1761) and Immanuel Kant, (“Eternal Peace”, 1795) insisted on constitutional governance as a source of peace; the English utilitarians (Jeremy Bentham, James Mill, John Stuart Mill) contended that war was an anachronistic encumbrance on a free society, benefiting no one but aristocrats and professional soldiers. The most prominent philosopher of XXth century who was engaged with idea of nuclear war as a mean to stop all wars (“Common Sense and Nuclear Warfare“, London, 1959) – Bertrand Russell initialized Pugwash movement with Russell-Einstein Manifesto.

In spite of big number of sources with philosophic reflections of war and peace another essential number of issues still have not been addressed. Relevant problems are studied by special disciplines (like military strategy, tactics etc) and social sciences – political philosophy, history, jurisprudence, sociology, economics. It is obvious that metastrategic (i.e. philosophic) point is inevitably lost in specific studies. The most essential point in this case is fallen to oblivion: scholars of specific disciplines usually forget about internal rules of thinking which are studied by philosophy and logic, paying attention primarily to the subject of investigation and leaving behind methodology and peculiarities of abstract thinking which leads to unfavorable consequences.

Moreover, some particular sides of military theory and military history have not studied by philosophers at all, which was caused so significant number of “realists”. Analytic Philosophy of War has to solve these discords by means of outlining subject of research, its methodology, basic aims and strategies of research.

Modern warfare, often defined as “post-heroic” (E.Luttwak) is a new challenge for scholars of war studies. Changing character of war needs to be studied in terms and scholarship of modern science which was not accomplished systematically yet.

Unlike classic regular warfare (as a conflict between states for economic and/or political reasons) modern armed conflicts in majority of cases are intrastate civil conflicts between people who want to have their rights secured and state which is unable to provide legal rights of its citizens for various reasons. In this situation study of justification of humanitarian interventions became extremely up to date.

In my research I am intended to study tactics and strategy of modern and recent operations of humanitarian interventions, their legal basis, causes and results in order to find out fundamental correlations between factual outcome of the operations and their ethical groundings. To avoid ethical dichotomies in assessing moral aspects of humanitarian military operations I will proceed from universality of democratic order and absoluteness of unalienable human rights. To achieve this aim I will be grounded on analytic tradition of ethics (G.Moore), liberal philosophy of law (J.Locke) and my previous research “Analytic Philosophy of War” as a branch of applied philosophy. Ethical issues of justice and responsibility (“Responsibility to Protect”) of soldiers who are engaged in humanitarian intervention will be analyzed using my previous research “Transformations of Idea of Justice in Greco-Roman Culture” which shows essential correlation between justice as objective law and natural rights (Ancient Greek approach) and justice as relative feature of human will and positive rights (Roman culture) from historical standpoint regarding modern investigations in

Just War Theory. The concept of responsibility will be analyzed from the existential and post-totalitarian standpoints, which I have experienced personally living in USSR and post-totalitarian Ukraine.

In my research I am intended to prove essential correlation between ethically justified humanitarian intervention (i.e. in Kosovo and Libya) of and the most pragmatic ways of its deploying. In this question I refer to military art (Sun Tzu and Sir B.H.Liddell Hart and their doctrine of “Indirect Approach”) and military science of humanitarian interventions in time when the political ideology as one of the main causes of war was replaced by legal claims of citizens to defend their own rights from the state violence, corruption and injustice (“post-heroic warfare”).

I am intended to analyze whole complexity of the ethical aspects of humanitarian interventions; to systematize causes of modern armed conflicts which require humanitarian intervention; to prove the essential correlation of the ethical justification of humanitarian interventions and their optimal (“indirect”) conduct. Also I will present my own proposals of strategy of humanitarian interventions (“indirect operations” – informational, educational, cultural missions to prevent civil conflicts; operations with involving of intelligence services).

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