Philosophy of International Law
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleFTR-FIPPSB205
Credits (ECTS)5
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies; Opleiding Filosofie;
mr. J.C.H.R. Hoek
Other course modules lecturer
mr. J.C.H.R. Hoek
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
mr. J.C.H.R. Hoek
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2020
SEM1  (31/08/2020 to 24/01/2021)
Starting block
Course mode
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesNo
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
This course aims to provide a critical exploration of the ethical and legal issues raised by international law, with a strong emphasis on the problem of war and peace. On successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
  • demonstrate an understanding of the different aspects of international law (UN Charter and basic treaties);
  • describe and explain the basic criteria of just war theory;
  • understand these criteria in relation to moral and legal problems, both in the past and in the present;
  • form an informed opinion on the issues and approaches discussed and support it by arguments.
In the relationship between states, a major role has been played and is still played by war. Despite the fact that positive international law aims at reducing the occurence of war and at regulating warfare, war still causes widespread fear and suffering, leads to unregulated migration streams and imposes on states huge costs. War nonetheless remains a part of our world, as is evident from the desturbing footage of today‚Äôs warzones, e.g. Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan, Ukraine, Jemen, Israel, and Gaza.

War raises all sorts of important and interesting questions: can it be tamed or even be replaced by (international) law? Are there circumstances in which war is legally and morally justified? How should wars be fought and what are the international and moral obligations of combattants? Should the principle of discrimination be considered a categorical imperative?
The past decades saw a rise in philosophical interest in international law and in just war theory. This course provides an introduction to three major theoretical approaches to war (realism, pacifism, and just war theory) and explores, in more detail, the impact of these three branches for international law. Subtopics of the course will include sovereignty, aggression and self-defense, humanitarian intervention, the principle of discrimination, and the moral equality of combatants,international criminal responsibility.

Presumed foreknowledge

Test information

This course is part of a three course module in the Philosophy, Politics and Society bachelor programme. Students can only be admitted if they also take the two associated courses during the same semester (retakes excluded). Students who are NOT enrolled in a bachelor, master, or exchange programme of the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious studies cannot register directly for PPS modules. Instead, they can apply for admission by sending an e-mail to Such applications must contain a separate document in which you (1) inform us about your current studies, (2) explain which module you want to take and why it is relevant to your studies, and (3) describe what you bring to the classroom. The document must be written in English.
Required materials
(small additional text fragment will be provided via Brightspace)
Title:Ethics of War and Peace (2nd Edition)
Author:Frowe, H.

Instructional modes
Lecture and seminar

Written Exam
Test weight1
Test typeExam
OpportunitiesBlock SEM1, Block SEM2