Critically Discuss Augustine's Distinction Between Just and Unjust Wars

1154 Words Dec 22nd, 2005 5 Pages
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 …show more content…
Augustine did not accept that justice could be obtained through killing in self-defence. One should only be permitted to kill only under the instruction of God or a legitimate authority ordained by God. He believed that self-defence should never be a valid justification for causing harm to another man. However, in the Bible one of the ten commandants is that ‘thou shallt not kill '. In arguing that killing is sometimes an unavoidable evil Augustine contradicts traditional Christian doctrine and goes against the teachings of Jesus. According to Augustine Christians have a moral duty to contribute to the state. Their duties involve participating in the public office and fighting in a just war if it is deemed necessary by their ruler Augustine asserted that once a war has been declared the soldier must obey his leader regardless of whether he is waging a just or unjust war. The soldier is therefore not guilty if the war he engages in is unjust but instead it is the sole fault of the ruler. Augustine argued that ‘the soldier is innocent, because his position makes obedience a duty'. To punish a soldier for participating in an unjust war would encourage dissertation and anarchy amongst the ranks. Augustine thus believed that there should be no resistance to
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