Dept of Political Science, Lund University, fall 2017

Rationality, Emotions and War

Is the decision to go to war best explained as a rational choice or do other factors, such as emotions, come into play? If so, what is the relationship between rational and emotional factors? What are “emotions” anyway and how can they be incorporated into social science explanations? And what are the differences in the way political leaders and soldiers make decisions? To ask these questions is to inquire into matters of the philosophy of science, but it is also to ask question about specific historical cases. Throughout the course these two concerns are combined. The course first explores four historical cases in particular: European colonial wars, the First World War, the Vietnam War and the Global War on Terror. The course pays special attention to the experiences of soldiers — to their choice to enlist and to their experiences on the battlefield.