Title

Old Wine in New Skins: Aquinas, Just War and Terrorism

Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

1-2007

Abstract

The tragic unfolding of world events since September 11, 2001, has added great urgency to practical and theoretical issues arising from the phenomenon of international terrorism. This paper applies a traditional concept of just war theory drawing largely on Aquinas and Augustine to legitimate violent action against groups who are not (or need not be) themselves representatives of states. Traditional just war theory is couched largely in terms of the legitimacy of defensive war directed at polities. New applications of the theory are required to deal with contemporary international terrorism. In presenting a new application of the theory I argue that the purely defensive conception of just war advocated in recent Catholic Church documents and taken up by some contemporary theologians and philosophers is problematic. In dialogue particularly with Joseph Boyle, I maintain that traditional just war theory provides the salient criteria for a polity’s violent actions against groups that are not themselves, or at least, need not be polities – including actions that may be characterised as punitive rather than purely defensive in nature. The traditional concept of just war is in this respect more coherent.

Discipline

Philosophy | Political Science

Research Areas

Humanities

Publication

Pacifica

Volume

20

Issue

2

First Page

204

Last Page

218

ISSN

1030-570X

Publisher

Pacifica Theological Studies Association

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