Just War Theory

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Evan Uesato
November 4 2009

Violence in the Name of Religion
(Just War)

Christianity preaches peace and loving your neighbor but for the history of christianity, there has been violence and war in its name. For Many years people have been killing other human beings in the name of christ or justifying their killings by saying that the war is in the name of god. The belief that violence and war can be justified is called the “Just War Theory.”

Just war is a war that is justified because it is necessary for peace to happen. Just war theory has its origins in the catholic church. In order for a war to be considered just it must meet certain criteria. For a war to be just it must: have a just cause, have a valid authority, be comparative justice, the right intention, be the last resort, have a good probability of success, and have proportionality.[1]

Just cause means that going to war is the only way to prevent immanent danger, to protect innocent life, and to preserve human rights. A valid authority is a leader declared by public order, not a private group. In order to have comparative justice, the rights and values that were violated must be worth killing for, god and right must be on their side.[2] Force can only be used in a truly just cause not for material gain. For war to be the last resort, all peaceful alternatives that have been proposed and exhausted before force can be used. Probability of success means that force may not be used in a situation that cannot be won or requires irrational measures to win or achieve success.[3] To have proportionality, the benefits of war must out weigh or equal to the costs of the war.[4]

The just war theory started with the catholic church. The importance of the just war theory is connected to the Christian medieval theory which began from St. Augustine of Hippo.[5] The original three criteria made by St. Augustine are right intention, valid authority and peace must be the final goal....
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