Considering Hegel's Account of War
In response to acts of war, most people at some point are stirred by certain moral feelings. For some, morality demands that a war be fought - morality justifies war. For others, morality condemns war, if not absolutely then in a particular case. There are, of course, many differing moral conceptions. However, one which is currently favoured by many liberal and left-liberal intellectuals is that of Kantian morality, or what can be called 'Kantian cosmopolitanism'. By way of examining some of the limitations of the approach of Kantian cosmopolitanism to the problem of war, this article draws upon an often overlooked and heavily misunderstood tradition, that of Hegelian philosophy. The article puts forward the case for the continued relevance of Hegel's account of war. Specifically, Hegel's account of war assists contemporary moral, legal and political thought to better understand the role and status of violence within our own ethical conceptions and ethical demands. If we are to properly come to terms with the challenges of war and terror in the present, then the insights into the relation between ethics, violence and negativity given by Hegel's account need to be adopted and integrated into our forms of thinking about the world.
Griffith Law Review