A book entitled War and Morality: Citizens’ Rights and Duties, written by Dr. Michael Cavanagh, professor of psychology at Mount Olive College, was recently published by McFarland Publishers.
In today’s world, ordinary citizens are encouraged to support the wars their governments wage but not to become involved in the moral decision-making that leads up to them. After two years of research, Cavanagh wrote the book to educate and empower ordinary citizens, the major stakeholders in war, to make well-informed moral decisions about declaring, waging and ending war.
Many war-related topics are presented in the media — political, military, economic, legal and even religious issues — but moral issues rarely are discussed. Ordinary citizens are thought to be unable to comprehend the moral aspects of war even though they are considered capable of understanding equally complex moral issues, such as abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia, birth control, and homosexuality. To provide a foundation for understanding the moral dimensions of war, the 200 page book addresses the nature of conscience, various moral norms, a moral decision-making process, and the theoretical and practical issues involved in attempting to avoid war or at least to make it as moral as possible, considering its nature.
The book is neither for or against war but rather offers a methodology to help readers make informed decisions about the morality of war in general or about the morality of specific wars and to put their decisions into action rather than passing their consciences off to political and military leaders.
The book is available at the college bookstore and will be at local bookstores soon.