McMahan+War - War Much of what might be called the...

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War Much of what might be called the “classical” theory of the just war was formulated prior to the advent of modern states and the emergence of doctrines of state sovereignty. The classical writers understood the morality of war to be only one dimension of a unified body of natural law that governs individual human action in much the way that the laws of nature govern the nonhuman world, except that the human subjects of natural law were thought to enjoy free will, which enabled them, unlike natural objects, to violate at least some of the laws to which they were subject. Natural law was thought to be addressed primarily to the conscience of the individual person and was only derivatively concerned with the formation, structure, and functioning of political and legal institutions. The doctrines of the classical just war theorists were therefore largely individualist in character – that is, they were focused on whether or when it was permissible for individuals to go to war and what it was permissible or impermissible for them to do in war. Working within the natural law tradition, the classical just war theorists understood themselves to be discovering and articulating objective moral truths. In contrast to later theorists in the just war tradition, they did not, at least for the most part, formulate moral principles by reference to what they believed the likely consequences would be if people were to accept and attempt to follow them. Nor did they try to determine what principles potential adversaries might realistically be able to agree to accept, or could rationally accept, for governing their relations with one another. These ways of reasoning about the selection of principles for the governance of war had to await the development of institutional means of regulating relations among actual and potential adversaries. The principles of classical just war theory therefore made few concessions to purely pragmatic concerns. Just war theory has traditionally been divided into two sets of principles, those governing the resort to war ( jus ad bellum ) and those governing the conduct of war ( jus in bello ). The classical theorists tended to regard jus in bello as dependent on jus ad bellum , in the sense that what it is permissible for an individual to do in war depends on whether his war is just, and in particular on whether it is being fought for a “just cause” – that is, an aim that is sufficient to justify the resort to war. Writing in the first half of the sixteenth century, Francisco de Vitoria argued that soldiers “ must not go to war ” when “the war seems patently unjust,” even when they are ordered to do so by a legitimate authority, for “one may not lawfully kill an innocent man on any authority, and in the case we are speaking of [when soldiers are confident that their war is unjust] the enemy must be innocent.” 1 By “innocent” Vitoria meant “having done no wrong.” 2 Francisco Suárez, writing roughly half a century later, reaffirmed Vitoria’s view: “No one may be
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This note was uploaded on 09/27/2011 for the course PHILOSPHY 106 taught by Professor Mcmahan during the Fall '10 term at Rutgers.

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McMahan+War - War Much of what might be called the...

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