Just War Principles: An Introduction with Further Reading

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Rethinking the Just War Tradition

First Page


Last Page



In studying the history of the ethics of war, the just war tradition may be interpreted as a historically evolving body of tenets about just war principles. (See the appendix for an introduction to these principles.) Instead of a single just war theory, there have been many just war theories—for example, those of Augustine, Aquinas, Vitoria, and Grotius—theories that have various commonalities and differences. A comprehensive history of the evolving just war tradition should feature a thorough study of how these just war theories were rethought. For example, in his landmark work Just and Unjust Wars, written during the Cold War, Michael Walzer exclaimed: “Nuclear weapons explode the theory of just war.” 1 In his rethinking of the just war tradition in light of the superpower practice of nuclear deterrence, he contributed his influential conception of supreme emergency exceptions. Now that the Cold War is over, the authors of the articles in this book are primarily concerned with the question of how the just war tradition—which is understood somewhat differently by the different authors—should be rethought today. Echoing Walzer’s exclamation, among the particular post–Cold War questions that can be raised are these: Is just war theory exploded by terrorism? Is it annihilated by genocide? In their various rethinkings of the just war tradition, our authors state their own particular post–Cold War questions, and answer them from their diverse viewpoints...


Link leads to full text provided by SUNY Press.