Books & Articles

Some books and articles that are useful in the study of Military Ethics


If you only have time to read one book on Military Ethics, then this is the book for you.  It is written for officer cadets, but is accessible to everyone, with an easy writing style. The book covers the usual Just War Theory (jus ad bellum and jus in bello in particular), as well as looking at an overview of ethical theory in general.  It also looks at issues of surrender and detention, supreme emergency, irregular war, insurgency (and counterinsurgency), humanitarian intervention, torture, terrorism, power and authority, and giving and receiving orders.  The best part of the book is the great collection of case studies that really bring the theory alive and an analysis that gets to the heart of the issues. (I must declare my conflict of interest with this book, as I assisted with the research and editing of the book).

Military Ethics : An introduction with case studies.  Stephen Coleman.  2013. Oxford University Press.  ISBN 978-0-19-984629-0

I am currently reading this book, & am finding it quite interesting.  The writing is more philosophical in style, and so is possibly more suited to students in a philosophy department rather than the general public.  It raises some interesting points and is worth having a look at.

The Ethics of War and Peace : An Introduction.  Helen Frowe. 2011. Routledge.  ISBN 978-0-415-49240-9

Walzer's book on just war theory is seminal in the field of military ethics. 

The book is split into 5 parts
1)  the moral reality of war
2) the theory of aggression
3) the war convention
4) dilemmas of war
5) the question of responsibility

He not only goes over just war theory, but puts forward some very challenging ways of looking at particular problems.  Personally I find Walzer incredibly hard to read - I find it I dip in and out of if as I need to, but find the writing style quite hard to follow at times (even if the material is brilliant).