Chinese traditions on military ethics

Ping Cheung LO*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter analyzes the major thinkers of five schools of thought on military ethics during the Period of Warring States in Chinese history (475-221 BCE) and their subsequent developments, and concludes that military ethics receives no attention by the Legalist School, some attention by the Daoist and Moist Schools, and ample attention by the Confucian and Military Strategy Schools. There are significant parallels between the military ethics of these last two ancient schools and the just war idea of early modern Europe regarding ad bellum, in bello, and post bellum norms. There are also two key differences. First, both the Confucian and the Military Strategy Schools have an idealistic tendency, advocating the higher goal of winning war extra-militarily. They deem military force inherently undesirable and so do not advocate its maximum use. Second, both schools place heavy emphasis on the critical role that various virtues and vices play and advocate the development of strong moral character in the military.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Ashgate Research Companion to Military Ethics
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781317042617
ISBN (Print)9781472416285
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Chinese traditions on military ethics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this