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Ethics & Political Violence Series

The McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society and the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) are jointly continuing the initiative on “Ethics & Political Violence” during the 2022-23 academic year.  The series of seminars and public lectures features philosophers, lawyers, historians, social scientists, human rights activists, soldiers and political leaders grappling with vexing moral questions raised by uses of violence in international relations and domestic politics.

The whole of human history is marked by violence and coercion employed to achieve political ends. Law and ethics are designed to regulate the use of violence, but do we have the best laws and norms for this task? And are such legal rules and ethical principles effective? The January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, continued incidents of police brutality in American cities, and the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan all remind us that violence is linked to both political order and political change in complex ways. 

·      What is the relationship between war abroad and political violence at home?

·      When, if ever, is it ethical to use violence to achieve political ends?

·      Are the laws of war and domestic laws legitimate and effective in producing justice?

·      Who has responsibility for dealing with the aftermath of violence in politics at home and abroad?

·      What are the roots of political extremism?

It is impossible to think of using violence for political ends without also thinking about what is right and what is wrong. This year-long initiative will bring together Stanford scholars and leading thinkers from around the world to address these important ethical and political questions.