Critically Discuss Augustine's Distinction Between Just and Unjust Wars

1177 Words Jan 14th, 2006 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…
They are merely tools for rulers to wage wars. Augustine completely exonerated soldiers for any war crimes that they may commit, if ordered to do so by their ruler, no matter how ghastly they may be. This unconditional obedience could easily result in mass human rights abuses. The intention of undertaking a war was very important for Augustine in determining which wars are justified and which are not. In the City of God Augustine used a tale of a youthful prank to clarify what an unjust war is. He talked of stealing pears when he was a young boy; this act was undertaken not out of necessity because of starvation but because of the thrill in the act and the unity it brought amongst him and his friends. Free will plays an important role in Augustine's formation of ideas of why we fight wars. He believed that before the fall of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden we had total free will. Our souls were pure and untainted by lust and greed, however after the Fall, our souls were marked by disobedience. Augustine believed that God let Adam sin but he, importantly, did not cause him to sin, showing how when we make mistakes they are our own and we cannot blame God. After Adam's fall, men became motivated by their desire to choose evil. Men alone make decisions but that decision is already directed by his now corrupted incapacity to be motivated in any of his acts by pure love.

Related Documents