This book takes a philosophical approach to questions concerning violence, war, and justice in human affairs. It offers the reader a broad introduction to underlying assumptions, values, concepts, theories, and the historical contexts informing much of the current discussion worldwide regarding these morally crucial topics. It provides brief summaries and analyses of a wide range of relevant belief systems, philosophical positions, and policy problems. While not first and foremost a book of advocacy, it is clearly oriented throughout by the ethical preference for nonviolent strategies in the achievement of human ends and a belief in the viability of a socially just—and thus peaceful—human future. It also maintains a consistently skeptical stance towards the all-too-easily accepted apologies, past and present, for violence, war, and the continuation of injustice.
“I’ve been searching a long time for a text like this. Christensen has written an exceptionally clear, careful, and engaging introduction to some of the most important moral and epistemological issues that arise when we think critically about the practice of war, the pursuit of peace and—most generally—the culture of violence within which our lives are embedded. I was especially pleased to see that Christensen makes extensive use of Peace Studies, and that he spends many pages exploring the philosophical foundations of that discipline. It’s both rare and encouraging to see a philosopher grapple seriously with such challenging and fertile topics as positive peace, ahimsa (nonviolence), institutional violence, pacifism, peacebuilding and peace activism.” — Mark Vorobej, Associate Professor of Philosophy and former Director of the Centre for Peace Studies, McMaster University