Just War Theory

Scott A. Silverstone

in International Relations

ISBN: 9780199743292
Published online March 2011 | | DOI:
Just War Theory

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The Just War tradition is based on the claim that only under certain conditions can war be morally defensible. Just War theory has claimed a middle ground between the realist tradition, which treats morality as irrelevant and even dangerous in the life and death stakes that political communities face in a threatening world, and pacifism, which rejects warfare under any conditions. Just War arguments are typically divided into two basic categories: the conditions that justify engaging in war (jus ad bellum) and the rules governing how war should be fought once it has started (jus in bello). Work on jus ad bellum emphasizes the moral appropriateness of fighting for a “just cause,” defined as defensive, and only as a last resort. The rules of jus in bello are meant to limit the extent of violence in war to what is proportional to the grievances that justify a particular war. Rules of jus in bello protect the lives of innocent civilians and combatants that no longer pose a threat, such as unarmed captives and the wounded, and limit the destruction of property. In recent decades increasing attention has been devoted to the moral rules that should guide how wars are ended (jus post bellum), specifically the political, social, and economic conditions left in the wake of war.

Article.  7116 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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