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War as Punishment

War as Punishment

February 11, 2011 -
1:15pm to 3:00pm
Event Speaker: 
David Luban, University Professor and Professor of Law and Philosophy
Event Sponsor: 
The Munro Lectureship Fund and The Lane Center
Abstract: 

Until recently, rulers routinely treated the punishment of affronts as a legitimate reason to make war. Today, warmaking to punish misbehaving princes may seem no better than warmaking to grab land, tribute, or glory. Under the Charter of the United Nations and customary international law, only self-defense counts as a legitimate reason to go to war. To be sure, individual political and military leaders can be punished for war crimes, including the crime of aggression. The International Criminal Court exists for just that purpose. But punishing leaders in a court of law is not the same as using warfare itself as the instrument of punishment. We may think that punishment by the sword, like wars of conquest, represents a lesser stage of civilization than we aspire to. This transformation in thinking about just cause raises two important questions: First, how did we get from there to here—from widespread acceptance of punishment as a just cause for war to widespread rejection of it? Second, and more important, is the question of whether punishment of wrongdoing might actually be a just cause for war despite the modern narrowing of just cause to self-defense.

Biography: 
David Luban is University Professor and Professor of Law and Philosophy, and the Acting Director of the Center on National Security and the Law. Luban received his B.A. from the University of Chicago and Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale University. He came to Georgetown in 1997 from the University of Maryland. Luban has been visiting professor and Distinguished Senior Fellow in Legal Ethics at Yale Law School, and Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor of Human Rights at Stanford Law School; he has also held visiting appointments at Dartmouth College,  the University of Melbourne, and Harvard Law School. In spring 2011, he will be a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Luban has held a Guggenheim Fellowship and Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, and won awards for his legal ethics scholarship from the New York State Bar and the American Bar Foundation.
 
In addition to legal ethics and philosophy, his recent scholarship concerns international criminal law, just war theory, human rights, and the US torture debate. Luban has published more than 150 articles; his books have been translated into Chinese and Japanese. They include Lawyers and Justice (1988), Legal Modernism (1993), Legal Ethics and Human Dignity (2007) and, most recently, International and Transnational Criminal Law (2010) (with Julie O'Sullivan and David P. Stewart). Luban has written for Slate.com, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times; he is a member of the group legal blog Balkinization. He is a frequent speaker at universities in the United States, and has lectured in ten other countries. Luban served on the DC Bar's legal ethics committee, and chaired the Professional Responsibility Section of the Association of American Law Schools, as well as the American Philosophical Association's committee on law and philosophy.