Document Type

Book Chapter

Authors

Ping Chung Lo

Department/Unit

Department of Religion and Philosophy

Title

Warfare ethics in Sunzi's art of war? Historical controversies and contemporary perspectives

Language

English

Abstract

Contemporary English and Chinese scholars alike have interpreted Sunzi's Art of War as advocating amoralism in warfare. That charge has a long history in pre-modern China and has not been fully refuted. This essay argues that the alleged amoral Machiavellianism is more appropriate for ancient Qin military thought than for Sunzi. The third chapter of Sunzi's treatise contains a distinctive moral perspective that cannot be found in the military thought of the state of Qin, which succeeded in defeating all other states in the Period of the Warring States. Such a moral perspective contains both ad bellum and in bello norms. I submit that my interpretation of Sunzi's warfare ethics can provide an important resource for the People's Liberation Army of China to construct full-scale just war ethics that is similar to Western understandings. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Keywords

amoral realism, Art of War, Clausewitz, Henry Sidgwick, last resort, Machiavellianism, Michael I. Handel, Michael Walzer, People's Liberation Army (PLA), proportionality, Shang Yang, Sunzi (Sun Tzu)

Publication Date

2015

Source Publication Title

Chinese just war ethics: Origin, development, and dissent

Editors

Lo, Ping Cheung ; Twiss, Sumner B.

Start Page

66

End Page

89

Series Title

War, conflict and ethics

Publisher

Taylor and Francis

ISBN (print)

9781138824355

ISBN (electronic)

9781315740706

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