One-day workshop on Bradley J. Strawser’s forthcoming book "The Bounds of Defense: Killing, Moral Responsibility, and War

On behalf of ConceptLab, we have the pleasure to invite you to a one-day workshop on Bradley J. Strawser’s forthcoming book "The Bounds of Defense: Killing, Moral Responsibility, and War”.


The workshop is divided into four sections with four respondents. Each respondent will provide a 15 min comment, followed by a 30 min plenary discussion. To receive the full book manuscript, please register your attendance to Lina Tosterud.  The chapters which will receive primary attention are chapters 1 -3 (mainly before lunch) and chapters 6-7 (mainly after lunch).

Participants are free to attend the workshop either in parts or in whole. Lunch will be provided.

  • 0930 Intro by Bradley J. Strawser ( Naval Postgraduate School)
  • 0945 Comments by Lars Christie "The moral status of non-culpable threateners" (UiO/Oxford University)
  • 1045 Comments by Andreas Carlsson " Moral Responsibility, Ignorance, and War" (UiO)
  • 1130 - 1215 Lunch break
  • 1215 Comments Susanne Burri "The Evidence-Relative View of Liability" (London School of Economics)
  • 1315 Comments Michael Robillard TBA(Oxford University)
  • 1400 End of workshop.


About the book: In The Bounds of Defense, Bradley J. Strawser examines a set of related moral issues in war: when it is permissible to kill in defense of others; what moral responsibility would be required to be liable for such defensive killing; how that permission can extend to whole groups of people; and lastly what values undergird the permissibility of that defense, such as individual autonomy.

Strawser argues for a rights-based account of permissible defensive harm, and an “evidence-relative” basis for holding one liable to harm. His view is that in order to be properly responsible for an unjust harm, one must act wrongly according to the evidence available. If one acts justly according to the available evidence, and does not fail to properly attend to that evidence, then they are not liable to defensive harm—even if they are mistaken and actually pose a threat of unjust harm themselves.

Extending this view, Strawser explores how such a rights-based model can make sense of the wide-spread destructive harms of war. He endorses a revisionist approach to just war theory, according to which all soldiers can be held individually morally responsible for the cause their side fights for, and argues in its defense; and he also shows how his evidence-relative account supports revisionist just war theory by better grounding it in the real world of modern warfare. Lastly, he offers a new proposal for how targeting in war could better align with respect for the rights of individual persons, and demonstrates how revisionist just war theory—and any rights-respecting just war account more broadly—could conceivably work in practical ways.


Bradley J, Strawser an Assistant Professor of Philosophy in the Defense Analysis Department at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. He is also a Research Associate at Oxford University’s Institute for Ethics, Law, and Armed Conflict (ELAC) in Oxford, UK. <> < <> >

Andreas Brekke Carlsson is a researcher at ConceptLab, UiO and the Secretary The Norwegian Ethics Council of the Defense Sector (Etisk råd for forsvarssektoren)

Susanne Burri is an Assistant Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her primary research interests include the ethics of war, the philosophy of death, and moral decision-making under risk and uncertainty. <> < <> >

Lars Christie is a researcher at ConceptLab, UiO and a postdoctoral research fellow at Oxford Institute of Ethics and Law in Armed Conflict (ELAC). Prior to earning his PhD he worked for the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, serving as a diplomat in Islamabad and Jerusalem.

Michael Robillard is a postdoctoral research fellow at Oxford's Uehiro Center for Practical Ethics as part of the European Research Council Advanced Grant on collective responsibility and global terrorism. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut in 2016. Prior to that, he was a resident research fellow at the Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership at the United States Naval Academy. Michael’s past research has focused on the overlap between normative theories of exploitation and present-day military recruitment. He has also written on the ethics of autonomous weapons as well war and its relation to future generations. Michael is an Iraq War veteran, United States Military Academy graduate, and former Airborne Ranger. <> < <> >

Published Jan. 6, 2017 9:08 AM - Last modified Mar. 22, 2017 11:11 AM