William H. Shaw
Utilitarianism and the Ethics of War
On any mature view, war is horrific. Naturally, there is a broad range of fundamental ethical questions regarding war. According to most moral theories, war is nonetheless sometimes permitted, and perhaps even obligatory. But even an obligatory war may be fought in a morally impermissible way. So it makes sense to distinguish the moral questions concerning the decision to wage war from the questions concerning the conduct of soldiers, armies, and states in the course of fighting a war. There is a large and growing contemporary literature devoted to these questions. Surprisingly absent from these discussions are utilitarian views of the morality of war.
In Utilitarianism and the Ethics of War (Routledge, 2016) William H. Shaw of San Jose State University provides a much needed utilitarian analysis of the ethics of war. Shaw proposes a fundamental utilitarian principle regarding the moral rightness of waging war, and then argues on utilitarian grounds for a compelling conception of the morality, duties, and responsibilities that apply to those fighting a war.