The Philosophy of War and Exile

The Philosophy of War and Exile (preview) (institutional access) argues that our current paradigms for thinking about the ethics of war – just war theory – and the suffering of war – PTSD theory – judge war without a proper understanding of war. By continuing the investigations of J. Glenn Gray into the meaning of how war is experienced by combatants we can find an alternative understanding of not only war, but of peace, culminating in a new theory of responsibility centered around embodiment and mortality rather than praise and blame. This conception of responsibility will in turn allow us to not only ask new questions about torture, unmanned warfare, and the treatment of veterans, but also to ask new questions about what it means for noncombatants to experience as home what combatants experience as exile.


Matthew Hallgarth (Major USAF ret.), in the Journal of Military Ethics, writes, “I found Gertz’s book refreshing and eye-opening. His book offers for changing the interpretive paradigm of military ethics instruction and analysis, and for motivating caregivers to reassess their boilerplate civilian judgments of troubled soldiers.”

Esther Adaire, in The LSE Review of Books, calls it an “intricate critique of the moral conundrums involved in war and peace [that] makes evaluations that will resonate with those who are familiar with a range of theoretical perspectives, from classical philosophy, to political theory, to studies of affect phenomenology.”

Jon Greenaway, in The Marx and Philosophy Review of Books, calls it an “invaluable book…tracing the holes and flaws in commonly held philosophical approaches to not just war, but also crucially, the human cost of war and trauma.”

Dena Hurst, in Phenomenology Reviews, writes, “The significance of Gertz’s analysis is that a new aspect of moral injury is added to the current dialogue—that of injury to morality itself.”

redmusewrites, in a 4-star Amazon.com review, says that this “book is establishing a conversation that needs to happen, one that will hopefully go beyond judgement, pity, or false sincerity towards veterans and their families.”


Featured in BBC World Update‘s October 6, 2014 interview with myself, a veteran, and a psychiatrist on the question: “Should philosophy be used to treat PTSD?”

Featured in Critical-Theory.com‘s 5 Books that Came Out in September 2014 and their reader poll of The Best Critical Theory Book of 2014

Discussed in Southern News‘s article on my talk at SCSU: “Visiting Professor Shines Light on Myths of Unmanned Warfare”

Tweet-reviewed by @CrankyEthicist, now available on Storify

Tweet-reviewed by @TheLitCritGuy, now available on Storify