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Book: Morality and Contemporary Warfare
Author: James Turner Johnson
Publisher: Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn., 2001

Excerpt from opening pages:

My approach, both in my previous book and here, is to focus on the tradition of just war as a body of moral wisdom deeply and broadly rooted in Western ideals, institutions, and experiences. Developed over history as a result of contributions from both secular and religious sources, reflecting the practice of statecraft and war as well as moral and political theory, this tradition has found different expression in various cultural contexts. Its importance as a guide for ethical judgment in matters of statecraft follows from its character as a synthesis of idealist and realist elements from many contexts. To be sure, this tradition has been significantly shaped by religious and philosophical elements, and until the modern period all the major benchmark just war theorists were theologians or canon lawyers. Yet, along with the contributions of Christian thought and practice and of philosophical reasoning, there are others, also of major importance: influences from secular law both domestic and international, from the traditions of military life and the experience of war, and from the practice and customs of statecraft. Philosophy has helped to shape just war tradition, not only as a distinct stream of thought, but as a mode of reasoning attached to religious, legal, military, and political discourse. Dialogue and mutual influence among the various streams has also been important in shaping the tradition as a whole. At times specifically Christian versions of just war reasoning, such as those of contemporary thinkers like Ramsey and the American Catholic bishops, have developed in interaction, either influencing or being influenced or both; at other times such Christian thought has developed mainly in dialogue with its own internal concerns. The same is true of all the other individual streams, each considered its own.


1. Politics, Power, and the International Order

2. Conditions for Just Resort to Armed Force: Just Cause, Competent Authority, and Right Intention in Historical and Contemporary Context

3. The Question of Intervention

4. War Against Noncombatants

5. Conflicts Inflamed by Cultural Difference

6. War Crimes and Reconciliation after Conflict

7. Conclusion:

Reshaping and Affirming a Consensus on the Purposes and Limits of War

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