Politics, ethics and history in just war

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The just war tradition can be used to ‘justify’ violence rather than limit it. If the tradition is understood as essentially a political rather than an ethical theory, one that requires consideration of questions about authority and justice as much as intentionality and proportionality, this enabling function might be limited. One important way to spell out the politics involved in the just war tradition is to focus on history and the function of historical examples drawn upon by theorists who write on war and peace. In this chapter, Anthony F Lang, Jr discusses how three theorists of just war—Hugo Grotius, Michael Walzer, and Cécile Fabre—use history in their evaluative work. Lang, Jr confronts these texts with postcolonial and feminist approaches as alternative ways to employ history in passing judgments on the use of collective force.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe justification of war and international order
Subtitle of host publicationfrom past to present
EditorsLothar Brock, Hendrick Simon
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780191898242
ISBN (Print)9780198865308
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2021

Publication series

NameThe history and theory of international law


  • Narrative
  • Historiography
  • Just war
  • Politics
  • Ethics
  • Authority
  • Hugo Grotius
  • Michael Walzer
  • Cécile Fabre
  • Cynthia Enloe


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