Just War Theory and the Ethics of War and Peace

Authored by: Brian Orend

The Ashgate Research Companion to Ethics and International Relations

Print publication date:  September  2009
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754671015
eBook ISBN: 9781315612935
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043546


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War remains one of the most deeply influential and disturbing facets of human existence. Reflection on the ethics of war and peace thus remains constantly relevant and gets continuously refreshed by the progression of new war actions, new war tactics and technology, as well as by the work of new scholars. In this chapter I sample four issues of contemporary and increasing importance, while advancing arguments broadly sympathetic to the just war tradition of thought on these issues. Just war theory frames basic moral rules to aid decision-makers facing the monumental challenges of war and peace. These rules fall into three categories, still referred to in their original Latin: jus ad bellum (‘justice of war’, regarding rules for starting wars); jus in bello (‘justice in war’, regarding rules for soldierly conduct during war); and jus post bellum (‘justice after war’, regarding rules to guide the transition from conflict back to peace). I have selected a topical issue from each of these categories to discuss, culminating in a discussion about post-war regime change. But first, let us consider one of wider and deeper relevance to the entirety of just war theory.

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