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The Ethics of War and Peace - INT6080 (10 sp)

In this course, we will delve into ways of talking about and understanding the ethical aspects of dealing with war and other crises at a time of great change.

Dette emnet undervises på engelsk og beskrives derfor på engelsk.

About the Course:

The last 100+ years have seen brutal wars, murderous totalitarian regimes, genocide, and nuclear weapons. But we have also witnessed – to a certain extent because of the facts just mentioned – a riveting development of international law, a great resurgence of interest in international ethics and the ethics of war, humanitarian initiatives on a large scale, and the founding of international organizations such as the United Nations, designed to foster peace and international cooperation. Right now, we are finding ourselves faced with new challenges and crises, including armed conflict in the heart of Europe and an unprecedented technological change due to artificial intelligence (AI).

In this course, we will delve into ways of talking about and understanding the ethical aspects of dealing with war and other crises at a time of great change. We will concentrate on the following three, crucially important topics:

  1. The idea of ethics across civilizational and national borders: What does it mean for there to be an "international (or global) ethics", and how can it be realized in practice?
  2. The idea of ethics in warfare: How can we regulate armed conflict – and how can we avoid armed conflict and create durable peace?
  3. The ethics of technology and artificial intelligence: How can we envision a world in which technological innovations, including digital technologies and artificial intelligence, play an ever-increasing role, without sacrificing core ethical values such as human dignity, proper human control, and justice?

The aim of the course is to gain knowledge of the main ethical concepts we need to know in order to be able to debate the morality of using armed force, and more broadly the morality of international affairs, and to relate this to the quest for stable, peaceful solutions to armed conflict as well as responsible ways of addressing technological change.


  • Gain knowledge of core ways in which to debate and conceptualize ethics.
  • Be able to discuss and explain the idea and concept of “just war”.
  • Explain how the just war tradition is different from political realism on the one hand and from pacifism on the other.
  • Relate core ideas of ethics and human control to the development of artificial intelligence (AI).


  • Evaluate arguments for and against use of armed force, using skills related to ethical theories and terminology.
  • Understand and formulate the basic ethical challenges related to AI.
  • Refer to key literature on the ethics of war and peace.


  • Gain knowledge of central ethical concepts needed for discussing international ethics, including the ethics of the use of armed force and the ethics of AI


This course consists of two separate exams that together constitute the final grade. Both exams must be passed in order to pass the course. Students can retake one or both exams.

  • Take home exam (individual essay); memo: 2500 words (+/- 10 % excluding front page and reference list) (60 % of the grade, grading system A – F).
  • 3 hour written exam (40 % of the grade, grading system A – F).