War and Self-Defense

01 March 2004

David Rodin

Ethics & International Affairs Volume 18, Issue 1, pages 63–68 DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-7093.2004.tb00451.x


This book explores the moral response to war and aggression within the context of self-defence. Two main projects are undertaken: to explain defensive rights in their most general form, and determine whether this explanation can be used as grounds for a right of national self-defence. It contends that although a coherent account of self-defence can be built around the idea of personal rights, the attempt justify war based on the conception of self-defence faces significant obstacles and ultimately fails. Self-defence has significant consequences for the entire enterprise of normative international relations, given its position as the centrepiece of the modern jus ad bellum (the rules specifying the conditions for a just war).