Reclaiming the Just War Tradition
Politicians, pundits, and scholars have cited the principles of “just war” to defend military actions from Iraq to Afghanistan to Libya. Others have cited just war principles to condemn those very interventions.
How can this same tradition lead to such sharply opposing conclusions? What is the just war tradition, and why is it important today?
Authors David D. Corey and J. Daryl Charles answer those questions in this fascinating blend of history, theology, and political philosophy. The Just War Tradition: An Introduction traces the development of the tradition from its inception nearly two millennia ago right up to today’s headlines. It illuminates how the various voices within the tradition—Augustine and Aquinas, Luther and Calvin, Suárez and Locke, as well as present-day commentators—relate to one another and to rival ways of understanding war and peace.
Corey and Charles reveal why this rich tradition provides the only framework for evaluating the moral particulars of coercive force—even in an age in which terrorism, unmanned aerial vehicles, guerrilla insurgencies, and so much else have transformed war. The just war tradition provides moral guidance that is necessary not only for adequate statecraft but also for the very ordering of civil society.
This invaluable book reintroduces the wisdom we desperately need in our national debates.
What They're Saying...
“A cogent, meticulous history of just war thinking from its inception to its present incarnations. The authors have done a superb job of unpacking the contributions of major thinkers. This is a volume to be savored by scholars and cherished by students.”
— Jean Bethke Elshtain, professor of social and political ethics at the University of Chicago, author of Just War against Terror
“This wonderfully readable book provides a rich and thoughtful account of the theoretical development of the concept of the just war. An excellent contribution to political theory, theology, and international relations.”
— James Ceaser, professor of politics at the University of Virginia
“In this supple and accessible account, Corey and Charles reintroduce us to a profound body of knowledge that we have neglected to our detriment. This fine and important book should be required reading not only for statesmen and scholars but also for every citizen.”
— Wilfred M. McClay, SunTrust Chair of Excellence in Humanities at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
“With impressive learning, lucid prose, and equanimity of voice, Corey and Charles supply an excellent survey of the major thinkers in the Western just war tradition—Catholic, Protestant, and liberal. They provide citizens with the resources to respond intelligently and responsibly to the monumental challenges of the present.”
— James R. Stoner Jr., professor of political science at Louisiana State University
“This thoughtful book engages the idea of just war as a tradition of moral thinking deeply rooted in both Christian religion and secular reflection on the aims of politics. It serves as a reminder of the uses and limits of armed force in the service of peoples and states.”
— James Turner Johnson, professor of religion at Rutgers University, author of Ideology, Reason, and the Limitation of War
“Of course this work will engage readers engaged with just war tradition, but it also offers more. The book is another milestone for those interested in the ongoing project of thinkers like Charles and Corey to reappropriate ancient Catholic and Protestant traditions that for years had been terra incognita or even terra inhospita to Protestants and especially Evangelicals.”
— J. Budziszewski, professor of government and philosophy at the University of Texas, author of The Line through the Heart
“A fresh examination of the origins and development of the just war tradition. Anyone concerned about the intersection of morals, politics, and war will profit from reading this book.”
— Timothy Fuller, professor of political science at Colorado College