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Teaching Religion and Violence$
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Brian K. Pennington

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195372427

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195372427.001.0001

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Teaching the Just War Tradition

Teaching the Just War Tradition

(p.295) Chapter 12 Teaching the Just War Tradition
Teaching Religion and Violence

William French

Oxford University Press

This essay describes strategies developed by the author for teaching a course on the Just War theory. The most prominent of the western religious traditions to articulate the conditions necessary for the moral use of armed force, the Just War tradition, with its roots in the medieval Catholic theology of Augustine and Aquinas, stipulates two sets of criteria, jus ad bellum (the discernment of the moral reasons for going to war), and jus in bello (the morality of the execution of the war itself). His course trains students in critical thinking about violence by emphasizing the careful analysis of wartime logic and the restraint of violence that this theological tradition has demanded. Students become empowered to exercise creative moral reasoning by exploring the possible expansion of the theory’s criteria, on the basis of the planet’s accumulated experience of 100 years of modern and nuclear warfare, to include a consideration of jus post bellum, the justice of a post-war circumstances, as part of the assessment of an action’s moral status.

Keywords:   Aquinas, Augustine, Jus post bellum, Just War theory, modern warfare, nuclear war

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