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'Soft War: The Ethics on Unarmed Conflict' by Michael Gross

  • Seminar Room G Manor Road Building Oxford (map)

Soft War: The Ethics on Unarmed Conflict by Michael Gross

Just war theory focuses primarily on bodily harm, such as killing, maiming, and torture, while other harms are often largely overlooked. At the same time, contemporary international conflicts increasingly involve the use of unarmed tactics, employing 'softer' alternatives or supplements to kinetic power that have not been sufficiently addressed by the ethics of war or international law. Soft war tactics include cyber-warfare and economic sanctions, media warfare, and propaganda, as well as non-violent resistance as it plays out in civil disobedience, boycotts, and 'lawfare.' While the just war tradition has much to say about 'hard' war - bullets, bombs, and bayonets - it is virtually silent on the subject of 'soft' war. This talk illuminates this neglected aspect of international conflict.

Michael L. Gross is Professor of Political Science and Head of the School of Political Science at the University of Haifa, Israel. He was born in Chicago and grew up in Skokie IL, leaving for Israel in 1971. After studying in Jerusalem, Evanston and Chicago he returned to Haifa in 1990 to teach at the University of Haifa.

Michael Gross has published widely in medical ethics, military ethics military medical ethics and related questions of medicine and national security. His articles have appeared in the American Journal of BioethicsThe New England Journal of MedicineThe Journal of Military EthicsThe Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare EthicsThe Hastings Center Report, the Journal of Medical Ethicsthe Journal of Applied Philosophy, theJournal of Cyber Security and elsewhere.

His books include Ethics and Activism(Cambridge 1997), Bioethics and Armed Conflict (MIT 2006), Moral Dilemmas of Modern War: Torture, Assassination and Blackmail in an Age of Asymmetric Conflict(Cambridge 2010); The Ethics of Insurgency: A Critical Guide to Just Guerrilla Warfare (Cambridge 2015) and two edited volumes -  Military Medical Ethics for the 21st Century (Routledge, Military and Defense Series, 2013) and Soft War: The Ethics of Unarmed Conflict (Cambridge 2017).

Michael Gross has been a visiting fellow at The University of Chicago, MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics and the European University Institute, Department of Political and Social Sciences in Florence, Italy. He serves on regional and national bioethics committees in Israel and has led workshops and lectured on battlefield ethics, medicine and national security for the Dutch Ministry of Defense, The US Army Medical Department at Walter Reed Medical Center, The US Naval Academy,  and the Medical Corps and National Security College of the Israel Defense Forces.

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