4. The Just War Tradition

David Fisher

in Morality and War

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199599240
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725692 | DOI:
4. The Just War Tradition

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This chapter traces the historical origins of the just‐war tradition from Augustine/Aquinas and explains and justifies the just‐war principles governing conduct before, during, and after war. It defends just‐war thinking from recent critics, including David Rodin. It argues that the principle of proportion rightly insists on the importance of attending to consequences. The principle is, however, applied at different levels by different players—political, strategic, theatre, and tactical. The principles were historically justified on the basis of a theory of war as punishment. But such punishment would be unjust, with aggressors escaping and ordinary soldiers being punished. More promising is Grotius' justification on analogy with the right of self‐defence. But how is that right justified? The basis for the just‐war principles needs to be sought—as with other moral principles—from the contribution that they make to human welfare and the prevention of suffering.

Keywords: St Thomas Aquinas; St Augustine; consequences; Hugo Grotius; proportion; punishment; right of self‐defence; David Rodin; just‐war tradition; just‐war principles; welfare

Chapter.  8994 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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