Just War

Authority, Tradition, and Practice

Anthony F. Lang Jr., Cian O'Driscoll, and John Williams, Editors

"This book, although at times dense, repays careful study and has the explicit aim, admirable in itself, ‘to reclaim the just war tradition for international political theory.’"
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The just war tradition is central to the practice of international relations, in questions of war, peace, and the conduct of war in the contemporary world, but surprisingly few scholars have questioned the authority of the tradition as a source of moral guidance for modern statecraft. Just War: Authority, Tradition, and Practice brings together many of the most important contemporary writers on just war to consider questions of authority surrounding the just war tradition.

Authority is critical in two key senses. First, it is central to framing the ethical debate about the justice or injustice of war, raising questions about the universality of just war and the tradition’s relationship to religion, law, and democracy. Second, who has the legitimate authority to make just-war claims and declare and prosecute war? Such authority has traditionally been located in the sovereign state, but non-state and supra-state claims to legitimate authority have become increasingly important over the last twenty years as the just war tradition has been used to think about multilateral military operations, terrorism, guerrilla warfare, and sub-state violence. The chapters in this collection, organized around these two dimensions, offer a compelling reassessment of the authority issue’s centrality in how we can, do, and ought to think about war in contemporary global politics.

Table of Contents


Introduction: The Just War Tradition and the Practice of Political Authority
Anthony F. Lang Jr. and Cian O’Driscoll

Part I: The Practice of Authority
1. The Right to Use Armed Force: Sovereignty, Responsibility, and the Common Good
James Turner Johnson
2. Just War and Political Judgment
Chris Brown
3. Natural Flourishing as the Normative Ground of Just War: A Christian View
Nigel Biggar
4. "Not in My Name"? Legitimate Authority and Liberal Just War Theory
John Williams
5. The Inseparability of Gender Hierarchy, the Just War Tradition, and Authorizing War
Laura Sjoberg
6. Legitimate Authority and the War against Al-Qaeda
Nahed Artoul Zehr
7. Problems of Legitimacy within the Just War Tradition and International Law
Tarik Kochi
8. Narrative Authority
Anthony F. Lang Jr.

Part II: Authority in Practice
9. Culpability and Punishment in Classical Theories of Just War
Gregory M. Reichberg
10. The Necessity of "Right Intent" for Justifiably Waging War
Joseph Boyle
11. Revenge, Affect, and Just War
Brent J. Steele
12. Just War and Guerrilla War
Michael L. Gross
13. Bugsplat: US Standing Rules of Engagement, International Humanitarian Law, Military Necessity, and Noncombatant Immunity
Neta C. Crawford
6. Just War and Military Education and Training
Martin L. Cook

Part III: The Triumph of Just War?
15. The Triumph of Just War Theory and Imperial Overstretch
John Kelsay
16. The Wager Lost by Winning? On the "Triumph" of the Just War Tradition
Nicholas Rengger

Conclusion: Reclaiming the Just War Tradition for International Political Theory
Cian O’Driscoll




"This book, although at times dense, repays careful study and has the explicit aim, admirable in itself, ‘to reclaim the just war tradition for international political theory.’"—International Affairs

"One of the most intriguing goals of the volume is how it challenges what the post-Westphalian system did to the classical just war criteria of right authority. . . . [We need] many diverse voices contributing to the just war tradition itself, which is something this collection ably provides."—Journal of Church and State

"A unique contribution to the mass of just-war literature . . . a book for the specialist and those well-versed in just war theory."—Laurence M. Vance,

"In the complex, multi-polar international environment of the twenty-first century, who has authority to wage war? This book offers a fascinating, varied, and thought-provoking set of answers to this difficult but immensely important question."—David Fisher, Kings College London

"The question of authority has sat at the heart of questions about the morality of war and peace for centuries. Combining forensic understanding of the history and complexity of this question with keen awareness of contemporary political challenges, this volume builds understanding of past traditions and sheds new light on today's moral dilemmas. It is essential reading for all those concerned about the moral questions posed by war."—Alexander Bellamy, professor of international security, Griffith University, Australia


Nigel Biggar Joseph Boyle Chris Brown Martin Cook Neta C. Crawford Michael L. Gross James Turner Johnson John Kelsay Tarik Kochi Anthony F. Lang, Jr. Cian O’Driscoll Gregory M. Reichberg Nicholas Rengger Laura Sjoberg Brent J. Steele John Williams Nahed Artoul Zehr

Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Anthony F. Lang Jr. is a reader in the School of International Relations at the University of St. Andrews and director of the Centre for Global Constitutionalism.

Cian O'Driscoll is a lecturer in international politics at the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow.

John Williams is a professor of international relations at Durham University.

336 pp., 6 x 9
1 figure
Jul 2013

336 pp., 6 x 9
1 figure
ISBN: 978-1-58901-996-6
Jul 2013

336 pp.
1 figure
ISBN: 978-1-58901-681-1
Jul 2013

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