The classical Confucian position on the legitimate use of military force

Sumner B. Twiss*, Jonathan K L Chan

*Corresponding author for this work

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

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    This chapter proposes to use this framework in examining Wang Yang-ming's ethics of war, in which war is clearly understood as punitive expeditions for the interdiction and rectification of aggression and tyranny. It illustrates the principal elements of Wang's ethic, beginning first with ius ad bellum criteria, then turning to ius in bello concerns, and concluding with ius post bellum policies. From Wang's set of rules, one may fairly infer that Wang adheres to a ius in bello norm of respect for civilian infrastructure including property, social practices, and material and psychological well-being, not to mention an emphasis on moral qualities and policies essential to military command and control. In contrast with both Mencius and Xunzi, Wang appears to make considerable use of the military classics, particularly Sunzi Bingfa, in his strategic thinking and action and to relate his strategies to Confucian moral values, thereby displaying an eminently practical orientation in addition to a principled one.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationChinese Just War Ethics
    Subtitle of host publicationOrigin, Development, and Dissent
    EditorsPing Cheung Lo
    Number of pages24
    ISBN (Electronic)9781317580966, 9781315740706
    ISBN (Print)9781138824355, 9781138729216
    Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2015

    Publication series

    NameWar, conflict and ethics

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Arts and Humanities(all)


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