Critically Discuss Augustine's Distinction Between Just and Unjust Wars

Topics: Laws of war, Thomas Aquinas, Peace Pages: 4 (1168 words) Published: January 5, 2006
Augustine is highly acclaimed as the originator of the Just War theory. He founded a concept that would be built upon for many years to come. Augustine argued that war was sometimes sadly an unfortunate necessity to preserve order in society. He believed that wars should only be undertaken if they satisfy a certain criteria for a just war. McCellend notes how ‘the original condition of man's soul was innocence' but since the Fall the soul has been tainted and is thus incapable of achieving goodness. While Augustine was fundamentally against war as he believed it was sinful, he recognised that sometimes there were just wars that could be fought under Gods jurisdiction to obtain a just peace. This essay will examine the criteria that Augustine set about for a Just war and whether his doctrine does indeed encompass justice.

Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden of Eden, and their subsequent fall from grace, for eaten the forbidden fruit has had grave consequences on humanity, according to Augustine. Their have affected every human being and there is no escape from it. From that moment, the human soul lost the capacity to have pure goodness and, as such, men became doomed to sin. They nature will always be motivated by self love and greed rather than selflessness, wars are therefore unfortunately inevitable. Susan Atwood asserts that ‘Augustine believed that war was the result of sin as well as a remedy for sin' .

Augustine forbid citizens or soldiers, whether just or unjust beings, to challenge unjust rulers unless under the command of another ruler. He thus wished to create a society with no freedom to introduce change unless allowed by the ruler. Augustine's demand of obedience to unjust regimes would be rejected as unacceptable in the contemporary modern society. He puts total faith in the reliability of just rulers to declare war on those rulers who are unjust. He suggests that unjust rulers can only be challenged by other rulers, thus...
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