Just War Theory: Research Project

Just War Theory: Research Project

Just War Theory: Research Project

This term’s major assignment is an in-depth moral analysis of a war using the tools of just war theory. This assignment has multiple goals:
1) To acquire a detailed knowledge of a war in its historical and cultural context and – as far as this can be established – the factors that led to its initiation.
2) To learn and apply the conditions for jus ad bellum (justice before war) and to think ethically about the decision to go to war.
3) To develop research and critical thinking skills.
Step 1: Research your war
Visit the university library and locate sources on the war you have chosen. Your sources must include at least one monograph (scholarly book) and at least two articles published in peer reviewed journals. This requirement places limits on the wars you can investigate: you cannot examine very recent wars or wars that are poorly documented.
Wikipedia has a useful list of wars: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_wars I encourage you to explore conflicts from earlier époques.
Step 2: Document the causes of the war.
Drawing on your research and citing your sources, briefly describe the factors that led to the war. Provide sufficient historical context so a reader unfamiliar with these sources will understand your claims. Your analysis of the causes of war should be approximately two to three double-spaced pages.
Step 3: Analyze each country or party’s decision to go to war using the framework of jus ad bellum
Brian Orend’s Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy useful (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/war/) is a useful discussion of just war theory to supplement Michael Walzer’s classic Just and Unjust Wars. Orend gives a standard set of conditions that justify going to war:
1) Just Cause
2) Right intention
3) Proper authority and public declaration
4) Last resort
5) Probability of success
6) Proportionality
According to just war theory, all of these conditions must be met to justify going to war. A war is not just if, for example, it is undertaken as a last resort for a just cause with the right intention but is unlikely to be successful. For the purposes of this assignment, determine as far as you are able whether each party met each of these conditions. Be sure to explain why the party met or failed to meet the criteria. If you are unable to determine compliance or lack of compliance with any of the criteria, explain why.
You may want to carefully reflect on whether you agree with this stringent requirement for war to be justified. This part of your assignment should be approximately three to four double-spaced pages.
Step 4: Summarize your conclusions
In no more than three normal length (4-6 sentences) paragraphs, summarize your findings.


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