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The Just War Revisited

The Just War Revisited


Part of Current Issues in Theology

  • Date Published: October 2003
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521538992

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About the Authors
  • Leading political theologian Oliver O'Donovan here takes a fresh look at some traditional moral arguments about war. Modern Christians differ widely on this issue. A few hold that absolute pacifism is the only viable Christian position, others subscribe in various ways to concepts of 'just war' developed out of a Western tradition that arose from the legacies of Augustine and Aquinas, while others still adopt more pragmatically realist postures. Professor O'Donovan re-examines questions of contemporary urgency including the use of biological and nuclear weapons, military intervention, economic sanctions, war crimes trials and the roles of the Geneva Convention, international conventions and the UN. His enquiry opens with a challenging dedication to the new Archbishop of Canterbury and proceeds to shed new light on vital topics with which the Archbishop and others will be very directly engaged. It should be read by anyone concerned with the ethics of warfare.

    • An exploration of the just-war tradition in terms of its moral and theological coherence
    • A discussion of contemporary issues in international affairs that have not normally been treated in this context
    • A reflection on reasons why contemporary debate fails to clarify the moral issues in international crises
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… this book provides a very good introduction to a sophisticated understanding of the just war tradition. it details the origins of the tradition, its central ideas and the dilemmas it confronts in a manner that avoids the simplistic methodology of applying the well-known criteria to particular wars that shapes much 'just war' thinking in International Relations but that is still succinct and engaging. As such, it provides a welcome and important addition to the way we think about responding to the challenge of global terrorism.' International Affairs

    'A highly recommended book.' Scientific and Medical Network Review

    'This is an unusual and insightful contribution to the literature on just-war theory and provides a novel focus for examining the morality of armed conflict.' The Times Literary Supplement

    '… essential reading for anyone who thinks seriously about the process of moral decision-making in relation to war.' Theology

    '… characteristically learned and judicious book … essential reading for anyone who thinks seriously about the process of moral decision-making in relation to war … I can but applaud much of what is written here and urge that it still needs to be heard by many who pronounce too easily on the relationship of Christianity and war … important and interesting insights …' Theology

    'The debate about the legality and wisdom of the Iraq war has been more bitter and prolonged than any such debate since Suez. Though this book by the Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at Oxford went to press before the war broke out it could be used to make a much needed calm and thorough contribution to the debate.' The Expository Times

    'Haacker's study of the theology of Romans is an extremely rich and helpful treatment.' The Expository Times

    'Reading this book at times gave me the impression of being taken behind the scenes and, say, watching a great conductor rehearsing with the orchestra. At a rehearsal one may not hear the work played right through; but this is more than made up for by the insight that is gained, the trains of thought provoked, and the unseen possibilities glimpsed. A master class is different from a performance, and this book is more like a master class than a concert.' Crucible

    'To anyone who thinks that there simply cannot be anything new to say about just wars, Professor O' Donavon's book will come as a most refreshing surprise … I found myself persuaded by his vision, time and again. The book demands careful reading, but it is non-technical. I recommend it most highly.' The Way

    'This is a carefully written book that requires, and rewards, close attention … It deals with the issues in a coherent fashion and will be of great help to any ministers seeking to clarify their own views in this area and/or wishing to help their people to do the same.' Ministry Today

    'O'Donovan throughout the book shows understanding and skill in reasoning about the nuances of the just war proposal, and, though a theologian, he offers insights for the non-theologian and non-church institution as well …' Perspectives in Religious Studies

    'O'Donovan tackles with clarity, erudition and courage a morally impossible subject. He does not shrink from the 'dirty' issues that inevitable arise when thinking about justice in the context of war.' Studies in Religion

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2003
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521538992
    • length: 152 pages
    • dimensions: 202 x 156 x 10 mm
    • weight: 0.23kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Dedicatory introduction
    1. Just War revisited
    2. Counter-insurgency war
    3. Immoral weapons
    4. War by other means
    5. Can war-crimes trials be morally satisfying? 6. Afterword: without authority.

  • Author

    Oliver O'Donovan, University of Oxford
    Oliver O'Donovan is Regius Professor of Moral & Pastoral Theology and Canon of Christ Church, University of Oxford. He is the author of The Problem of Self-Love in Saint Augustine (1980), Begotten or Made (1984), Peace and Certainty: A Theological Essay on Deterrence (1989) Resurrection et l'Expérience Morale (1992), On the Thirty-Nine Articles: A Conversation with Tudor Christianity (1993), Common Objects of Love (2002).

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