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ACU Voice: The Ethics of War

ACU Voice BodyCaption: ACU Voice Master of Ceremonies Geraldine Doogue with Professor Thomas Martin, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research).Photo: Matthew Duchesne, Milk & Honey Photography

Is war ever necessary? Is war ever just?

ACU Voice, the University’s new public speaker event, was held on October 20 at The Australian Museum in Sydney. Led by keynote speaker Dr John Forge, the evening was attended by more than 100 people and focused on the morality of armed conflict.

Dr Forge is the winner of the 2010 ACU Eureka Prize for Research in Ethics, for his book examining whether scientists carry a moral obligation for the sometimes destructive consequences of their research. 

Dr Forge guided the audience through an examination of some of the aspects of just war theory. Using historical case studies he suggested that it is difficult to determine prior to commencing combat if the war will be just. Dr Forge said that while he is not a pacifist, “a moral agent, when judging all the criteria of just war theory might need to conclude that wars are wrong because you can’t be sure that the war you are going to embark on is going to be a just war.” 

Providing different perspectives was a panel consisting of Professor Tony Coady, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne, Claire Mallinson, National Director of Amnesty International Australia, and Father Frank Brennan, Professor of Law at ACU’s Public Policy Institute.

Professor Thomas Martin, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), said the event was a successful kick-off to the speaker series.
“ACU Voice will provide a forum for rational and civil debate about topics which are contentious and maybe even divisive in society - but reasoned debate, not shock jock biased opinion that is not substantive by truth,” he said. “The series will be in full swing for 2012 with four events next year - be sure to keep an eye out for upcoming events.”

ACU Voice is a free public speaker series that examines a range of topical issues through a guest lecture and expert panel discussion format. Held quarterly, the series is designed to encourage public debate: with the audience invited to engage the expert panel in the form of a Q&A session. 

To find out more, visit www.acu.edu.au/acuvoice