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Lecture 4

ECH 3320 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Just War Theory, J. Walter Thompson, Jus Ad Bellum

Conflict Studies and Human Rights
Course Code
ECH 3320
Paul Robinson

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Just War Theory
Just War Theory refers to the body of thought which addresses the questions of when
war may be justified (jus ad bellum) and what actions are justified during war (jus in
Arises from a synthesis of Roman and Christian ideas
Given the great significance war has had in human history it is not surprising that major
world religions have sought to address the moral problems it creates.
JWT represents an attempt to reconcile the pacifistic elements inherent in Christian
religion and modern secular thought – most notably do no harm and love others as you
do yourself
Requirements to maintain order and assist those under attack
Basic purpose of the theory can be contested
Can be seen to limit use of violence but also as essentially permissive
It both constrains and enables certain types of activities
Basic problem Christians face when determining attitude to have towards violence is that
the bible gives no answers.
Bible is contradictory and leaves ample room for developing rules on use of force.
During 1st 4 centuries there was a plurality of attitudes towards war and military service.
Once Christians were a majority they needed to make hard choices about whether to
employ violence
The way out was to reverse the moral obligation inherent on Christians to love their
fellow man – this meant instead of harming others the focus was now on not allowing
harm to others.
Christian charity therefore allowed one to protect others by force if necessary
States could also do this too as the state was a God given institution to govern the
affairs of men and serving the state in an army is virtuous.
Much more commendable to protect ones country from destruction that oneself.
Beginnings of JWT
St Augustine- father of JWT
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For Augustine, peace was not absence of war but order
Good war is better than bad peace
War was a lesser evil that was forced upon people in order to defend others.
What matters are intentions – acts driven by a love of God and fellow humans are just
This is against the modern rules of law because humanitarian intervention is just but a
war rooted in self-defence is not.
Peace of God Movement
First manifestation of JWT in Peace of God Movement in France at the end of the 10th
Sought to restrict the types of people and objects that could be legitimately targeted in
Later Truce of God movement sought to restrict days on which fighting could take place
Head to Second Lateran Council of 1123 declared certain people must remain secure
No effect on warfare but served to introduce ideas of restraint into language of JWT
11th Century – 1st Just War Theory
Scholars worked to assemble what can and can’t be done in war
Made lists setting requirements
Most influential by Thomas Aquinas
Noted that peace is not merely absence of war, failing to protect others was incompatible
with justice.
3 things for just war – authority to declare, just cause and right intention.
Introduced Doctrine of Double Effect: Two effects from one intention, means must justify
the ends. One may not deliberately target innocent but may undertake acts which one
foresees will kill the innocent as long as it is proportionate and unintended.
Controversial as it relies on narrow interpretations of intentions
Seems self-serving to claim when an act has two effects it is only the intended one that
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