Digest of terms

just war

one of the three main stances in respect of the ethics of war, the other two being pacifism and holy war. Its criteria are now embodied in international law, but as a coherent philosophy it developed within the Christian tradition in the writings of Ambrose and Augustine (fourth and fifth centuries CE), and of Aquinas and Gratian (twelfth and thirteenth centuries CE). The transition to its being equally applicable from within a framework of either religious or secular belief was introduced by Hugo Grotius in his Laws of War and Peace (1625), where it connects with the notion of natural law. Two main aspects are identified, one relating to the justifications for going to war (ius ad bellum), the other to conduct within war (ius in bello). In regard to the former, the criteria include there being a reasonable prospect of a successful outcome, with less suffering than would arise from not declaring war; the war only being declared by a rightful authority; war being a last resort when all other options have been tried and failed; and the aim being peace. In regard to the latter, important related issues are who may be regarded as a legitimate combatant, and the special attention which should be shown to non-combatants - civilians, especially women and children (a view also found in Muslim discussions of jihad). In addition, the nature and degree of force used should be proportionate.

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