Ethics in the Conduct of War

  • Sheldon G. Levy
Part of the University of Reading European and International Studies book series (UREIS)


Most social science examinations of war are concerned with its occurrence, the admirable goal being to eliminate or at least reduce its frequency. However the destructiveness of wars and other incidents of mass killing are primarily a function of their size rather than their occasion. This chapter is most concerned with the psychological bases for the lack of restraint in intergroup conflict as expressed in event magnitude. It reports on the views of ‘bystanders’ to history, that is, individuals who were not directly involved in the events, as obtained from standardised questionnaires. The discussion, which is based on results from several large groups of college students in a number of locations, examines their beliefs about both the general principles that should be applied to armed conflict as well as the degree to which specific historical events were viewed as exceeding acceptable standards of behaviour.


Social Approval Prison Term Mass Killing Intergroup Conflict Systemic Punishment 
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Notes and References

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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sheldon G. Levy

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