Just War Theory

Term Paper, 2013

12 Pages, Grade: A



For several years, there continue to be a lot of controversy about the ethical and moral justification of Just War theory. The ethical issue has created two sides of opposing views, those who view Just War as ethical and those who view it as unethical. Even today, Just War theory still creates passionate debate among philosophers and religious leaders as well as the public concerning this theory. Some proponents of Just War theory argue that it brings peace and justice, while those opposing just war theory note the damages and even instability are created by wars. However, both sides agree that war is necessary where peace can not be achieved by peaceful means. In the recent past, the war in Iraq that was started by the U.S and its allies has ignited a passionate debate over if this war is a just war. To further investigate these opposing viewpoints, this position paper will attempt to explain the issue by looking at both sides of the issue. Various positions on both sides will be highlighted, and then a position will arrived at basing on the findings of both sides.  Lastly, this paper will conclude in favor of just war.

Statement of Fact

In any debate over war, it’s impossible for the church or the mass to voice one view point on the issue. This is because even the Bible itself has two opposing aspects on the issue. On one side, the Bible teaches Christians that rulers who pursue their own individual goals against the people wish sin against the will of God, and in such a situation other world rulers are supposed to at times enforce peace even through force, though under Gods guidelines. But, on the side, God wishes man to live peaceful without fighting and killing each other. Thus all Christians exonerate some level of coercion, however, they basically they are peaceful.

It’s against these opposing teachings that some Christians such like Augustine, Grotius and other made a concluded that those in power ought to at times engage in war, though it’s a horrible duty, for the aim of maintaining peace, punishing those who commit evil and upholding the good (Stauffer, par, 4). The collective views of these Christians are what came to be called “Just War” theory. According to this theory, conflicts arising can and should meet the principle of religious, philosophical or of political justice, so long as it adheres to some specific conditions. Just war theory outlines the way a war may be justified and how it may be fought. A war may be justified through either theoretical basis or on historical foundation. Theoretical basis of war details how war can be ethically justified while the historical foundation also referred to as “just war tradition” underlines the historical system of rules which are applied or which exist in different wars over time. This theory comprises questions that need to be asked and answered regarding any war before starting it. The controversy of just war starts from these questions, regarding if the answers given if they are satisfactory or not.

War brings justice

The proponents of war observe that war helps to restore justice when carried out by a legitimate body. Though secular records on the custom considers legitimate authority to be head of governments, with others giving international bodies such as the United Nations to be legitimate bodies, Christians teachings acknowledges legitimate powers in a broader concept. Powers over issues of life and death only belongs to God, but, he shares this powers the ruling authority. (Romans, 13:17). It’s against these teachings that governing powers can sanction war.

However, though there is delegation of power, even those who propose war warn that this does not give the rulers an express authority to wage war. Stauffer (par, 4) observes that, Christian teachings on just war outline that justness of any war does not sorely rest on the hands of the ruler. The ruler has to seek wise advice from his advisers. More important it is acknowledged that soldiers also ought to make their individual determination of how a war should be fought justly. MacDonald et al (p, 46) observes that, the church is expected to act as an oversight of the war. This has happened many times when church leaders mediate in armed conflicts. When such steps have been laid down, those who support just war theory observes that it becomes justifiable to wage war on evil powers.

According to proponents of just war, Gods sanctions and even assist in a just war so along as such war is being fought in pursuit of heavenly justice and not material justice based on worldly resources. The problem of such teachings is that war can not be seen as the only alternative to restore justice, since it may not achieve that justice it seeks to achieve.


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Just War Theory
The University of Liverpool
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Ellen Garcia (Author), 2013, Just War Theory, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/271550


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