Just war theory
Just war theory (Latin: jus bellum iustum) is a doctrine, also
referred to as a tradition, of military ethics studied by military
leaders, theologians, ethicists and policy makers. The purpose of the
doctrine is to ensure war is morally justifiable through a series of
criteria, all of which must be met for a war to be considered just.
The criteria are split into two groups: "right to go to war" (jus ad
bellum) and "right conduct in war" (jus in bello). The first concerns
the morality of going to war, and the second the moral conduct within
war. Recently there have been calls for the inclusion of a third
category of Just
War theory—jus post bellum—dealing with the
morality of post-war settlement and reconstruction.
War theory postulates that war, while terrible, is not always the
worst option. Important responsibilities, undesirable outcomes, or
preventable atrocities may justify war.
Opponents of Just
War theory may be either inclined to a stricter
pacifist standard (proposing that there has never been and/or can
never be a justifiable basis for war) or toward a more permissive
nationalist standard (proposing that a war need only serve a nation's
interests to be justifiable). In a large number of cases,
philosophers state that individuals need not be of guilty conscience
if required to fight. A few ennoble the virtues of the soldier while
declaring their apprehensions for war itself. A few, such as
Rousseau, argue for insurrection against oppressive rule.
The historical aspect, or the "just war tradition," deals with the
historical body of rules or agreements that have applied in various
wars across the ages. The just war tradition also considers the
writings of various philosophers and lawyers through history, and
examines both their philosophical visions of war's ethical limits and
whether their thoughts have contributed to the body of conventions
that have evolved to guide war and warfare.
1.2 Saint Augustine
1.3 Saint Thomas Aquinas
1.4 School of Salamanca
1.6 Formally described as "just war"
2 Criteria of just war theory
2.1 Jus ad bellum
2.2 Jus in bello
3 Official positions
4 Ending a war: Jus post bellum
5 Alternative theories
6 List of just war theorists
7 Theorists stating retaliation is justified
8 See also
10 Further reading
11 External links
Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, offers one of the first
written discussions of a "just war." In it, one of five ruling
brothers asks if the suffering caused by war can ever be justified,
and then a long discussion ensues between the siblings, establishing
criteria like proportionality (chariots cannot attack cavalry, only
other chariots; no attacking people in distress), just means (no
poisoned or barbed arrows), just cause (no attacking out of rage), and
fair treatment of captives and the wounded. The war in the
Mahabharata is preceded by context that develops the "just cause" for
the war including last minute efforts to reconcile differences to
avoid war. At the beginning of the war, there is the discussion of
"just conduct" appropriate to the context of war.
A 2017 study found that the just war tradition can be traced as far
back as to Ancient Egypt, "demonstrating that just war thought
developed beyond the boundaries of Europe and existed many centuries
earlier than the advent of Christianity or even the emergence of
In ancient Rome, a "just cause" for war might include the necessity of
repelling an invasion, or retaliation for pillaging or a breach of
War was always potentially nefas ("wrong, forbidden"), and
risked religious pollution and divine disfavor. A "just war"
(bellum iustum) thus required a ritualized declaration by the fetial
priests. More broadly, conventions of war and treaty-making were
part of the ius gentium, the "law of nations", the customary moral
obligations regarded as innate and universal to human beings. The
quintessential explanation of Just
War theory in the ancient world is
found in Cicero's De Officiis, Book 1, sections 1.11.33–1.13.41
Christian theory of the Just
War begins with Augustine of Hippo
and Thomas Aquinas.
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo claimed that, while individuals should not resort
immediately to violence, God has given the sword to government for
good reason (based upon Romans 13:4). In Contra Faustum Manichaeum
book 22 sections 69–76, Augustine argues that Christians, as part of
a government, need not be ashamed of protecting peace and punishing
wickedness when forced to do so by a government. Augustine asserted
that this was a personal, philosophical stance: "What is here required
is not a bodily action, but an inward disposition. The sacred seat of
virtue is the heart."
Nonetheless, he asserted, peacefulness in the face of a grave wrong
that could only be stopped by violence would be a sin. Defense of
one's self or others could be a necessity, especially when authorized
by a legitimate authority:
They who have waged war in obedience to the divine command, or in
conformity with His laws, have represented in their persons the public
justice or the wisdom of government, and in this capacity have put to
death wicked men; such persons have by no means violated the
commandment, "Thou shalt not kill."
While not breaking down the conditions necessary for war to be just,
Augustine nonetheless originated the very phrase itself in his work
The City of God:
But, say they, the wise man will wage Just Wars. As if he would not
all the rather lament the necessity of just wars, if he remembers that
he is a man; for if they were not just he would not wage them, and
would therefore be delivered from all wars.
J. Mark Mattox writes that, for the individual Christian under the
rule of a government engaged in an immoral war, Augustine admonished
that Christians, "by divine edict, have no choice but to subject
themselves to their political masters and [should] seek to ensure that
they execute their war-fighting duty as justly as possible."
Saint Thomas Aquinas
Nine hundred years later,
Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) laid out the
conditions under which a war could be justified (combining the
theological principles of faith with the philosophical principles of
reason, he ranked among the most influential thinkers of medieval
First, just war must be waged by a properly instituted authority such
as the state. (Proper Authority is first: represents the common good:
which is peace for the sake of man's true end—God.)
Second, war must occur for a good and just purpose rather than for
self-gain (for example, "in the nation's interest" is not just) or as
an exercise of power (just cause: for the sake of restoring some good
that has been denied. i.e. lost territory, lost goods, punishment for
an evil perpetrated by a government, army, or even the civilian
Third, peace must be a central motive even in the midst of
violence. (right intention: an authority must fight for the just
reasons it has expressly claimed for declaring war in the first place.
Soldiers must also fight for this intention).
In the Summa Theologica, Thomas proceeded to distinguish between
philosophy and theology, and between reason and revelation, though he
emphasized that these did not contradict each other. Both are
fountains of knowledge; both come from God.
School of Salamanca
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School of Salamanca
School of Salamanca expanded on Thomistic understanding of natural
law and just war. It stated that war is one of the worst evils
suffered by mankind. The School's adherents reasoned that war should
be a last resort, and only then, when necessary to prevent an even
greater evil. Diplomatic resolution is always preferable, even for the
more powerful party, before a war is started. Examples of "just war"
In self-defense, as long as there is a reasonable possibility of
Preventive war against a tyrant who is about to attack.
War to punish a guilty enemy.
A war is not legitimate or illegitimate simply based on its original
motivation: it must comply with a series of additional requirements:
It is necessary that the response be commensurate with the evil; use
of more violence than is strictly necessary would constitute an unjust
Governing authorities declare war, but their decision is not
sufficient cause to begin a war. If the people oppose a war, then it
is illegitimate. The people have a right to depose a government that
is waging, or is about to wage, an unjust war.
Once war has begun, there remain moral limits to action. For example,
one may not attack innocents or kill hostages.
It is obligatory to take advantage of all options for dialogue and
negotiations before undertaking a war; war is only legitimate as a
Under this doctrine expansionist wars, wars of pillage, wars to
convert infidels or pagans, and wars for glory are all inherently
The just war doctrine of the Catholic Church—sometimes mistaken as
the "just war theory"—found in the 1992 Catechism of the
Catholic Church, in paragraph 2309, lists four strict conditions for
"legitimate defense by military force":
the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of
nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be
impractical or ineffective;
there must be serious prospects of success;
the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the
evil to be eliminated (the power of modern means of destruction weighs
very heavily in evaluating this condition).
The Compendium of the Social
Doctrine of the Church elaborates on the
Doctrine in paragraphs 500 to 501:
If this responsibility justifies the possession of sufficient means to
exercise this right to defence, States still have the obligation to do
everything possible "to ensure that the conditions of peace exist, not
only within their own territory but throughout the world". It is
important to remember that "it is one thing to wage a war of
self-defence; it is quite another to seek to impose domination on
another nation. The possession of war potential does not justify the
use of force for political or military objectives. Nor does the mere
fact that war has unfortunately broken out mean that all is fair
between the warring parties".
Charter of the United Nations
Charter of the United Nations intends to preserve future
generations from war with a prohibition against force to resolve
disputes between States. Like most philosophy, it permits legitimate
defence and measures to maintain peace. In every case, the charter
requires that self-defence must respect the traditional limits of
necessity and proportionality.
Therefore, engaging in a preventive war without clear proof that an
attack is imminent cannot fail to raise serious moral and juridical
questions. International legitimacy for the use of armed force, on the
basis of rigorous assessment and with well-founded motivations, can
only be given by the decision of a competent body that identifies
specific situations as threats to peace and authorizes an intrusion
into the sphere of autonomy usually reserved to a State.
Formally described as "just war"
The first work dedicated specifically to it was De bellis justis of
Stanisław of Skarbimierz (1360–1431), who justified war by the
Kingdom of Poland with Teutonic Knights. Francisco de
Vitoria criticized the conquest of America by the
Kingdom of Spain
Kingdom of Spain on
the basis of just war theory. With
Alberico Gentili and Hugo
Grotius just war theory was replaced by international law theory,
codified as a set of rules, which today still encompass the points
commonly debated, with some modifications. The importance of the
theory of just war faded with the revival of classical republicanism
beginning with works of Thomas Hobbes.
Although the criticism can be made that the application of just war
theory is relativistic, one of the fundamental bases of the tradition
is the Ethic of Reciprocity, particularly when it comes to in bello
considerations of deportment during battle. If one set of combatants
promise to treat their enemies with a modicum of restraint and
respect, then the hope is that other sets of combatants will do
similarly in reciprocation, (a concept not unrelated to the
considerations of Game Theory).
Just war theorists combine a moral abhorrence towards war with a
readiness to accept that war may sometimes be necessary. The criteria
of the just war tradition act as an aid to determining whether
resorting to arms is morally permissible. Just war theories are
attempts "to distinguish between justifiable and unjustifiable uses of
organized armed forces"; they attempt "to conceive of how the use of
arms might be restrained, made more humane, and ultimately directed
towards the aim of establishing lasting peace and justice".
The just war tradition addresses the morality of the use of force in
two parts: when it is right to resort to armed force (the concern of
jus ad bellum) and what is acceptable in using such force (the concern
of jus in bello). In more recent years, a third category—jus
post bellum—has been added, which governs the justice of war
termination and peace agreements, as well as the prosecution of war
Murray Rothbard stated: "a just war exists
when a people tries to ward off the threat of coercive domination by
another people, or to overthrow an already-existing domination. A war
is unjust, on the other hand, when a people try to impose domination
on another people, or try to retain an already existing coercive rule
Jonathan Riley-Smith writes,
The consensus among Christians on the use of violence has changed
radically since the crusades were fought. The just war theory
prevailing for most of the last two centuries—that violence is an
evil that can, in certain situations, be condoned as the lesser of
evils—is relatively young. Although it has inherited some elements
(the criteria of legitimate authority, just cause, right intention)
from the older war theory that first evolved around AD 400, it has
rejected two premises that underpinned all medieval just wars,
including crusades: first, that violence could be employed on behalf
of Christ's intentions for mankind and could even be directly
authorized by him; and second, that it was a morally neutral force
that drew whatever ethical coloring it had from the intentions of the
Criteria of just war theory
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War Theory has two sets of criteria, the first establishing jus
ad bellum (the right to go to war), and the second establishing jus in
bello (right conduct within war).
Jus ad bellum
Main article: Jus ad bellum
The reason for going to war needs to be just and cannot therefore be
solely for recapturing things taken or punishing people who have done
wrong; innocent life must be in imminent danger and intervention must
be to protect life. A contemporary view of just cause was expressed in
1993 when the US Catholic Conference said: "Force may be used only to
correct a grave, public evil, i.e., aggression or massive violation of
the basic human rights of whole populations."
While there may be rights and wrongs on all sides of a conflict, to
overcome the presumption against the use of force, the injustice
suffered by one party must significantly outweigh that suffered by the
other. Some theorists such as
Brian Orend omit this term, seeing it as
fertile ground for exploitation by bellicose regimes.
Only duly constituted public authorities may wage war. "A just war
must be initiated by a political authority within a political system
that allows distinctions of justice. Dictatorships (e.g. Hitler's
Regime) or deceptive military actions (e.g. the 1968 US bombing of
Cambodia) are typically considered as violations of this criterion.
The importance of this condition is key. Plainly, we cannot have a
genuine process of judging a just war within a system that represses
the process of genuine justice. A just war must be initiated by a
political authority within a political system that allows distinctions
Force may be used only in a truly just cause and solely for that
purpose—correcting a suffered wrong is considered a right intention,
while material gain or maintaining economies is not.
Probability of success
Arms may not be used in a futile cause or in a case where
disproportionate measures are required to achieve success;
Force may be used only after all peaceful and viable alternatives have
been seriously tried and exhausted or are clearly not practical. It
may be clear that the other side is using negotiations as a delaying
tactic and will not make meaningful concessions.
The anticipated benefits of waging a war must be proportionate to its
expected evils or harms. This principle is also known as the principle
of macro-proportionality, so as to distinguish it from the jus in
bello principle of proportionality.
In modern terms, just war is waged in terms of self-defense, or in
defense of another (with sufficient evidence).
Jus in bello
Once war has begun, just war theory (jus in bello) also directs how
combatants are to act or should act:
Just war conduct should be governed by the principle of distinction.
The acts of war should be directed towards enemy combatants, and not
towards non-combatants caught in circumstances they did not create.
The prohibited acts include bombing civilian residential areas that
include no legitimate military targets, committing acts of terrorism
and reprisal against civilians, and attacking neutral targets (e.g.,
the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor). Moreover, combatants are not
permitted to attack enemy combatants who have surrendered or who have
been captured or who are injured and not presenting an immediate
lethal threat or who are parachuting from disabled aircraft (except
airborne forces) or who are shipwrecked.
Just war conduct should be governed by the principle of
proportionality. Combatants must make sure that the harm caused to
civilians or civilian property is not excessive in relation to the
concrete and direct military advantage anticipated by an attack on a
legitimate military objective. This principle is meant to discern the
correct balance between the restriction imposed by a corrective
measure and the severity of the nature of the prohibited act.
Just war conduct should be governed by the principle of military
necessity. An attack or action must be intended to help in the defeat
of the enemy; it must be an attack on a legitimate military objective,
and the harm caused to civilians or civilian property must be
proportional and not excessive in relation to the concrete and direct
military advantage anticipated. This principle is meant to limit
excessive and unnecessary death and destruction.
Fair treatment of prisoners of war
Enemy combatants who surrendered or who are captured no longer pose a
threat. It is therefore wrong to torture them or otherwise mistreat
No means malum in se
Combatants may not use weapons or other methods of warfare that are
considered evil, such as mass rape, forcing enemy combatants to fight
against their own side or using weapons whose effects cannot be
controlled (e.g., nuclear/biological weapons).
In April 1917, two weeks after the
United States Congress
United States Congress declared war
on Germany, Cardinal
James Gibbons of Baltimore, the de facto head of
the U.S. Catholic church, issued a letter that all Catholics were to
support the war. The Episcopal bishop of New York, William Manning
said the following:
Our Lord Jesus Christ does not stand for peace at any price...Every
true American would rather see this land face war than see her flag
lowered in dishonor...I wish to say that, not only from the standpoint
of a citizen, but from the standpoint of a minister of religion...I
believe there is nothing that would be of such great practical benefit
to us as universal military training for the men of our land.
Pacifism is meant the teaching that the use of force is never
justifiable, then, however well meant, it is mistaken, and it is
hurtful to the life of our country. And the
Pacifism which takes the
position that because war is evil, therefore all who engage in war,
whether for offense or defense, are equally blameworthy, and to be
condemned, is not only unreasonable, it is inexcusably unjust.
Ending a war: Jus post bellum
In recent years, some theorists, such as Gary Bass,
Louis Iasiello and
Brian Orend, have proposed a third category within Just
Jus post bellum concerns justice after a war, including peace
treaties, reconstruction, war crimes trials, and war reparations. Jus
post bellum has been added to deal with the fact that some hostile
actions may take place outside a traditional battlefield. Jus post
bellum governs the justice of war termination and peace agreements, as
well as the prosecution of war criminals, and publicly labeled
terrorists. This idea has largely been added to help decide what to do
if there are prisoners that have been taken during battle. It is,
through government labeling and public opinion, that people use jus
post bellum to justify the pursuit of labeled terrorist for the safety
of the government's state in a modern context. The actual fault lies
with the aggressor, so by being the aggressor they forfeit their
rights for honorable treatment by their actions. This is the theory
used to justify the actions taken by anyone fighting in a war to treat
prisoners outside of war. Actions after a conflict can be
warranted by actions observed during war, meaning that there can be
justification to meet violence with violence even after war. Orend,
who was one of the theorist mentioned earlier, proposes the following
Just cause for termination
A state may terminate a war if there has been a reasonable vindication
of the rights that were violated in the first place, and if the
aggressor is willing to negotiate the terms of surrender. These terms
of surrender include a formal apology, compensations, war crimes
trials and perhaps rehabilitation. Alternatively, a state may end a
war if it becomes clear that any just goals of the war cannot be
reached at all or cannot be reached without using excessive force.
A state must only terminate a war under the conditions agreed upon in
the above criteria. Revenge is not permitted. The victor state must
also be willing to apply the same level of objectivity and
investigation into any war crimes its armed forces may have committed.
Public declaration and authority
The terms of peace must be made by a legitimate authority, and the
terms must be accepted by a legitimate authority.
The victor state is to differentiate between political and military
leaders, and combatants and civilians. Punitive measures are to be
limited to those directly responsible for the conflict. Truth and
reconciliation may sometimes be more important than punishing war
Any terms of surrender must be proportional to the rights that were
initially violated. Draconian measures, absolutionist crusades and any
attempt at denying the surrendered country the right to participate in
the world community are not permitted.
There are many theories that correlate with the Just
doctrine, which include:
Militarism is the belief that war is not inherently bad
but can be a beneficial aspect of society.
Realism – The core proposition of realism is a skepticism as to
whether moral concepts such as justice can be applied to the conduct
of international affairs. Proponents of realism believe that moral
concepts should never prescribe, nor circumscribe, a state's
behaviour. Instead, a state should place an emphasis on state security
and self-interest. One form of realism – descriptive realism –
proposes that states cannot act morally, while another form –
prescriptive realism – argues that the motivating factor for a state
is self-interest. Just wars that violate Just Wars principles
effectively constitute a branch of realism.
Revolution and Civil
War – Just
War Theory states that a just war
must have just authority. To the extent that this is interpreted as a
legitimate government, this leaves little room for revolutionary war
or civil war, in which an illegitimate entity may declare war for
reasons that fit the remaining criteria of Just
War Theory. This is
less of a problem if the "just authority" is widely interpreted as
"the will of the people" or similar. Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva
Conventions side-steps this issue by stating that if one of the
parties to a civil war is a High Contracting Party (in practice, the
state recognised by the international community,) both Parties to the
conflict are bound "as a minimum, the following [humanitarian]
provisions". Article 4 of the
Third Geneva Convention
Third Geneva Convention also makes clear
that the treatment of prisoners of war is binding on both parties even
when captured soldiers have an "allegiance to a government or an
authority not recognized by the Detaining Power".
Nonviolent struggle – The "just war" criterion of "last resort"
requires believers to look for alternative means of conflict. The
methods of nonviolent action permit the waging of political struggle
without resort to violence. Historical evidence and political theory
can be examined to determine whether nonviolent struggle can be
expected to be effective in future conflicts. If nonviolent action is
determined effective, then the requirements for "just war" are not
Absolutism – Absolutism holds that there are various ethical rules
that are absolute. Breaking such moral rules is never legitimate and
therefore is always unjustifiable.
A "just war"—if there could be such a thing—would not require
conscription. Volunteers would be plentiful.
Ben Salmon, An Open Letter to President Wilson (October 14, 1919)
Pacifism is the belief that war of any kind is morally
unacceptable and/or pragmatically not worth the cost. Pacifists extend
humanitarian concern not just to enemy civilians but also to
combatants, especially conscripts. For example,
Ben Salmon believed
all war to be unjust. He was sentenced to death during World
(later commuted to 25 years hard labor) for desertion and spreading
Right of self-defence – The theory of self-defence based on rational
self-interest maintains that the use of retaliatory force is justified
against repressive nations that break the non-aggression principle. In
addition, if a free country is itself subject to foreign aggression,
it is morally imperative for that nation to defend itself and its
citizens by whatever means necessary. Thus, any means to achieve a
swift and complete victory over the enemy is imperative. This view is
prominently held by Objectivists.
Consequentialism – The moral theory most frequently summarized in
the words "the end justifies the means", which tends to support the
just war theory (unless the just war causes less beneficial means to
become necessary, which further requires worst actions for
self-defense with bad consequences).
List of just war theorists
These theorists either approve of war as retaliation, or of war as a
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Cicero (106–43 BC)
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo (354–430)
Gratian (Christian) (12th century)
Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
Stanislaw of Skarbimierz (1360–1431)
Francisco de Vitoria
Francisco de Vitoria (1492–1546)
Francisco Suarez (1548–1617)
Alberico Gentili (1552–1608)
Samuel Pufendorf (1632–1694)
Emerich de Vattel
Emerich de Vattel (1714–1767)
Paul Tillich (1886–1965)
George Barry O'Toole (1886–1944)
Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971)
H. Richard Niebuhr (1894–1962)
Meher Baba (1894–1969)
Paul Ramsey (1913–1988)
Murray Rothbard (1926–1995)
Michael Walzer (1935–)
Ron Paul (1935–)
Robert L. Holmes (1935–)
James Turner Johnson (1938-)
Edwin Frederick O'Brien
Edwin Frederick O'Brien (1939–)
Jean Bethke Elshtain (1941–2013)
Oliver O'Donovan (1945–)
David Luban (1949-)
Louis Iasiello (1950–)
George Weigel (1951–)
John Kelsay (1953–)
Jeff McMahan (1954–)
Nicholas Rennger (1959–)
Anthony F. Lang, Jr. (1968–)
Brian Orend (1970–)
Alex J. Bellamy (1975–)
Daniel Brunstetter (1976–)
Valerie Morkevicius (1978–)
James Pattison (1980–)
Malcolm X (1925–1965)
Theorists stating retaliation is justified
These theorists do not approve of war, but provide arguments for
justifying retaliation when another starts war.
Hugo Grotius (1583–1645)
John Locke (1632–1704)
John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill (1806–1873)
John Rawls (1921–2002)
Michael Novak (1933–2017)
Michael Quinlan (1930–2009)
Use of force by states
Jihad fi-sabilillah, just war in the Islamic tradition
^ Guthrie, Charles; Quinlan, Michael (2007). "III: The Structure of
the Tradition". Just War: The Just
Ethics in Modern
Warfare. pp. 11–15. ISBN 978-0747595571.
^ Guthrie, Charles; Quinlan, Michael (26 Sep 2007). "III: The
Structure of the Tradition". Just War: The Just
War Tradition: Ethics
in Modern Warfare. United Kingdom: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.
pp. 11–15. ISBN 978-0747595571.
^ Fiala, Andrew (2014-12-21). Zalta, Edward N., ed. Pacifism. The
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2014 ed.). Metaphysics
Research Lab, Stanford University. Philosophical discussions of
pacifism have clarified the concept by distinguishing the more general
commitment to nonviolence from a narrower anti-war position. Pacifism
is further defined through its dialectical relation to the idea of
justified violence that is found in the Western just war tradition,
with many locating pacifism on a continuum for assessing the morality
of war that includes realism, just war theory, and pacifism. Indeed,
there is an ongoing debate about the proper relation between just war
theory and pacifism that focuses on the question of whether the just
war theory begins with a pacifist presumption against war. Some
authors (May, for example) have used the just war theory to derive a
version of pacifism described as “contingent pacifism” or “just
^ Vinx, Lars (2016-03-21). Zalta, Edward N., ed. Carl Schmitt. The
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2016 ed.). Metaphysics
Research Lab, Stanford University. The main pillar of the ius publicum
Europaeum, according to Schmitt, was a strict separation between the
ius ad bellum and the ius in bello. On the level of ius ad bellum, all
independent states were recognized to possess the right to go to war
on the basis of their own judgment of justice and necessity. The legal
order of ius publicum Europaeum, in effect, did not distinguish
between just and unjust war. Rather, both sides in a conflict between
sovereign states were by default recognized as legitimate belligerents
(NE 140–71). Moreover, since both states in any conflict were held
to be legitimate belligerents, states not directly involved in a
conflict were taken to possess the right to choose to back either side
or to remain neutral (DCW 53–74). This framework, Schmitt argues,
allowed European states to bring about a highly effective containment
of the negative consequences of war, and thus of the dangers of
political existence. The abstraction from the justice of war allowed
states to make peace without being hampered by the need to apportion
moral blame. The freedom to side with either party in a conflict, or
else to remain neutral, allowed states to contain conflicts by
balancing or simply by staying out of the fight. Most importantly,
however, the mutual recognition of legitimate belligerency allowed for
the effective enforcement of stringent constraints on the permissible
means of warfare on the level of ius in bello. Inter-statal warfare
during the period of the jus publicum Europaeum, according to Schmitt,
distinguished carefully between combatants and civilians and abstained
from using methods of warfare that might endanger the lives or the
property of civilians (NE 142–43, 165–8). This containment of war,
Schmitt claims, was premised on the willingness to bracket the
question of justice on the level of ius ad bellum. Once one takes the
view that a war can be legitimate on one side, while being
illegitimate on the other, one is forced to conclude, Schmitt argues,
that it is morally wrong to grant the status of legitimate
belligerency to those who are judged to fight without a just cause,
and equally wrong to assume that they ought to enjoy the same in
bello-rights as those who fight justly (NE 320-2; CP 54–7).
Moreover, once one separates between legitimate and illegitimate
belligerency, it will no longer be possible to argue that other states
have the right to side with either belligerent or to remain neutral.
Rather, third parties will be seen to have a duty to side with those
who fight justly (DK 26–53). The abandonment of the idea that all
participants in a war among states are equally legitimate
belligerents, Schmitt concludes, inevitably undercuts the containment
of war achieved in ius publicum Europaeum (PB 286–90).
Unsurprisingly, Schmitt rejected the project of creating an
international legal order based on a ‘discriminating concept of
war’ that would subject the use of force on the part of sovereign
states to substantive criteria of moral legitimacy and external legal
control. He regarded such developments as little more than attempts on
the part of the victorious western allies to brand any violent German
effort to revise the outcomes of WWI as illegal and thus as unjust,
and to give themselves license for the application of means of
coercion and for the use of methods of warfare that would have been
considered as illegitimate in the context of mutually legitimate
belligerency (PB 184–203; NE 259–80). Schmitt argued that
international legalization on the model of just war theory would not
prevent coming wars. It would merely make them more total, as it would
encourage opponents to regard each other as absolute enemies worthy of
elimination (NE 309–22; Brown 2007; Slomp 2009, 95–111).
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treats of God, who is the "first cause, himself uncaused" (primum
movens immobile) and as such existent only in act (actu), that is pure
actuality without potentiality and, therefore, without corporeality.
The second part of the Summa (consisting of two parts, namely, prima
secundae and secundae, secunda) follows this complex of ideas. Its
theme is man's striving after the highest end, which is the
blessedness of the visio beata. Here Thomas develops his system of
ethics, which has its root in Aristotle. The way which leads to God is
Christ: and Christ is the theme of part III. It can not be asserted
that the incarnation was absolutely necessary, "since God in his
omnipotent power could have repaired human nature in many other ways":
but it was the most suitable way both for the purpose of instruction
and of satisfaction.
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Benson, Richard. "The Just
War Theory: A Traditional Catholic Moral
View", The Tidings (2006). Showing the Catholic view in three points,
including John Paul II's position concerning war.
Blattberg, Charles. Taking
War Seriously. A critique of just war
Brough, Michael W., John W. Lango, Harry van der Linden, eds.,
Rethinking the Just
Tradition (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2007).
Discusses the contemporary relevance of just war theory. Offers an
annotated bibliography of current writings on just war theory.
Butler, Paul (2002–2003). "By Any Means Necessary: Using Violence
and Subversion to Change Unjust Law". 50. UCLA L. Rev.: 721.
Crawford, Neta. "Just
War Theory and the US Countertenor War",
Perspectives on Politics 1(1), 2003.
Evans, Mark (editor) Just
War Theory: A Reappraisal (Edinburgh
University Press, 2005)
Ethics (London, New York: Continuum, 2007).
ISBN 0-8264-9260-6. A defence of an updated form of just war
Heindel, Max. The
Rosicrucian Philosophy in Questions and Answers –
Volume II (The Philosophy of War, World
War I reference, ed. 1918),
ISBN 0-911274-90-1 (Describing a philosophy of war and just war
concepts from a
Rosicrucian point of view)
Kelsay, John; Lo, PC; and Morkevicius, Valerie, "Comparative
War: Islamic, Chinese and
Hindu Perspectives," McCain Conference,
Stockdale Center, United States Naval Academy, 2011.
Khawaja, Irfan. Review of Larry May,
War Crimes and Just War, in
Democratiya 10, (), an extended critique of just war theory.
MacDonald, David Roberts. Padre E. C. Crosse and 'the Devonshire
Epitaph': The Astonishing Story of One Man at the
Battle of the Somme
(with Antecedents to Today's 'Just War' Dialogue), 2007 Cloverdale
Books, South Bend. ISBN 978-1-929569-45-8
McMahan, Jeff. "Just Cause for War,"
Ethics and International Affairs,
Nájera, Luna. ""Myth and Prophecy in Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda’s
Crusading "Exhortación", in Bulletin for Spanish and Portuguese
Historical Studies, 35:1 (2011). Discusses Sepúlveda's theories of
war in relation to the war against the Ottoman Turks.
O'Donovan, Oliver. The Just
War Revisited (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2003).
Ramsey, Paul. The Just
War (New York: Scribners, 1969).
Steinhoff, Uwe. On the
Terrorism (Oxford, Oxford
University Press, 2007). Covers the basics and some of the most
controversial current debates.
v. Starck, Christian (Ed.). Kann es heute noch gerechte Kriege geben?
(Göttingen: Wallstein-Verlag, 2008). ISBN 9783835302617
Walzer, Michael. Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with
Historical Illustrations, 4th ed. (New York: Basic Books, 1977).
Walzer, Michael. Arguing about War, (London: Yale University Press,
2004). ISBN 978-0-300-10978-8
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