Marc LiVecche

Project title: No Paradox: Love as the Ground for Killing in War
My dissertation developed under the supervision of Jean Bethke Elshtain, which is to say that it is probably inevitably, not to say predestined to be, interdisciplinary in nature. Working in the fields of theological and political ethics, military history, the rules of armed conflict, the phenomenology of combat, and the psychology of trauma, I pick a fight with Reinhold Niebuhr’s notion that killing is morally wrong but in war it is necessary.  This paradox renders killing, even in a justified war, as malum in se and I focus on the sometimes catastrophic effect this can have on our nation’s warfighters, distressingly manifest when we consider moral injury, a proposed subset of PTSD that occurs when one does or allows to be done that which contradicts deeply held normative commitments. In proposing conceptual alternatives to Niebuhrian hokum, I have no desire to do theology merely in service to theology and so my aims resonate with the Marty Fellowship’s commitment to bring religious perspectives to bear on questions of wide public concern. I therefore expect the year ahead will be an appropriate capstone to my time in Chicago and, in addition to being grateful for the financial and intellectual support the fellowship affords, I am eager to complete my dissertation in the company of scholars who might most often “drink their coffee in other places.”