• Center for Ethics

  • War and International Ethics

    The Center's engagement with war and international ethics began with its first Scholar-in -Residence, Michael Walzer. In his 2007 visit, Prof. Walzer, perhaps the most influential living thinker on Just War theory gave public lectures and seminars on war and terrorism, war and Jewish law, and the Lebanon war. The following academic year, Danny Statman, an eminent Israeli philosopher and religious scholar, talked on dirty hands in politics and conscientious objection in Israel. The Center has also sponsored or co-sponsored a number of panels on ethics in international affairs, on such topics as war, torture, and terror; the global slave trade, and the role of U.S. foreign policy in global reproductive health.

    In fall, 2010, the Center introduced a course entitled "Philosophical and Jewish Perspectives on Ethics and War." Co-taught by Center Director Adrienne Asch, and Rabbi Shalom Carmy, of the YC Bible and Jewish Philosophy Departments, that course offered Yeshiva College and Stern College students an overview on difficult questions of morality and ethics in the conduct of conventional and asymmetrical warfare, with several distinguished guest lecturers. Classes alternated between campuses, employing innovative technology that permitted students at both campuses to participate in each class. The course culminated in an intensive program during January intersession at the Jerusalem Center for Ethics, where students attended seminars and lectures with Israeli rabbis and scholars, public officials, soldiers, and political leaders, representing a diverse range of approaches and perspectives. Students also experienced ethical issues firsthand, traveling to military checkpoints on the West Bank.

    Courage as a Jewish Value

    On Monday, February 16, 2009, Rabbi Yitzchak Blau, Ram at Yeshivat Hamivtar, spoke on the topic of "Courage as a Jewish Value." Rabbi Blau is the author of articles on "Rabbinic Responses to Communism" and "Biblical Narratives and the Status of Enemy Civilians in Wartime." The event occurred on YU's Wilf Campus, Furst Hall 535, at 7:30 pm.

    Michael Walzer

    In March 2007, the Center for Ethics at Yeshiva University presented two public lectures by its inaugural Leonard and Tobee Kaplan Scholar-in-Residence, Professor Michael Walzer.

    Terrorism and Just War
    The Center for Jewish History
    March 19, 2007
    Play Introduction [5:38]
    Play Lecture [32:47]
    Play Discussion [43:40]

    War and Death:
    Reflections on the Lebanon War
    Stern College for Women
    March 20, 2007
    Play Introduction [9:34]
    Play Lecture [45:03]
    Play Discussion [32:45]

    Michael Walzer is one of the United States' most eminent political philosophers and public intellectuals. He writes and lectures on a wide variety of topics including political obligation; war, nationalism, and ethnicity; and economic justice. He has written some thirty books, including Just and Unjust Wars and Politics and Passion: Toward A More Egalitarian Liberalism, and was featured on the acclaimed PBS series BIG IDEAS.

    Professor Walzer is currently working on the toleration and accommodation of "difference" and on The Jewish Political Tradition, a multi-volume collaborative project on the history of Jewish political thought. He is one of three Permanent Faculty Members at the School of Social Science of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, one of the world's leading centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry.

    "War, Torture and Terror: The Role of Psychology," Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology 50th Anniversary Conference

    In June 2007, the Center co-sponsored this timely event, which examined human rights and related issues.

    The war on terror has stirred debate on the rights and treatment of detained suspected terrorists, specifically where coercive interrogation techniques are used by numerous countries. Should psychologists participate in such investigations? This conference will explore complex socio-political, socio-moral and psychological concerns including: the contemporary history of torture; psychologists behind current techniques used by the military and their efficacy; ethical issues confronting psychologists and psychiatrists in the military; and the clinical experiences of torture survivors.

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