What is the Just War theory?


A just war is one that is fought for the correct reasons and on the basis of virtuous principles. In this case, a war is just because it is justified. In relation to Christian doctrine this theory was established by the theologians, Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas however it's roots can be traced back to the ancient Greek philosophers, Plato and Aristotle.

The criteria for a just war is formed by two categories i.e. the right to go war, jus ad bellum, and the right conduct in war, jus in bello, however recent scholars have suggested the addition of a third category, justice after war, jus post bellum, in relation to fair peace treaties, the treatment of war criminals and the fair terms of reparations.

For the purposes of Christian examination, the conditions laid out by Thomas Aquinas are as follows:
1) War must be waged by a legitmate and legal authorirty e.g. the state
2) War can only be waged for a greater good and purpose rather than self-interest and/or gain i.e self-defence as opposed to capturing territory.
3) The end goal and reason for war must have the aim of bringing peace.

Two later conditions were then added by the Catholic church:
4) War must be the last resort after all other methods to restore peace have failed e.g. diplomacy
5) The war itself must be fought proportionally i.e. there must be no use of excessive force e.g. rape, nuclear weapons, and loss of innocent civilian lives.

N.B. Have these conditions always been upheld in warfare? Can you name one case where they have and one case where they haven't?
Consider: Other attitudes to war e.g. Pacifism

Do you think the conditions are realistic? What are their strengths/good points? What weaknesses/problems can you indentify?
Consider: Human nature

Finally, what is your opinion on warfare and the Just War theory?
​Consider: Is a war ever just? Why?

Jasmin T. GCSE English Literature tutor, A Level Religious Studies tu...

2 months ago

Answered by Jasmin, a GCSE Religious Studies tutor with MyTutor

Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist


Shaan  P. GCSE Art tutor, A Level Art tutor, GCSE Design & Technology...
View profile
£18 /hr

Shaan P.

Degree: Philosophy and Theology and Religious Studies (Bachelors) - Leeds University

Subjects offered: Religious Studies, Sociology+ 4 more

Religious Studies
-Personal Statements-

“About Me:I am a student at the University of Leeds studying BA Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies. When I was in secondary school I had a passion andreal drive for ALL my subjects and the interesting thing about my degree cou...”

George M. GCSE History tutor, A Level History tutor, Mentoring -Perso...
View profile
£20 /hr

George M.

Degree: History (Bachelors) - Oxford, Balliol College University

Subjects offered: Religious Studies, History+ 3 more

Religious Studies
-Personal Statements-

“About me:I am a history student at Balliol College, Oxford. I love almost all humanities, especiallyHistory and RS (Philosophy, Ethics and Theology). I hope that our sessions will help me share my enthusiasm and interest!I am v...”

Lucia R. A Level Religious Studies tutor, GCSE Religious Studies tuto...
View profile
£18 /hr

Lucia R.

Degree: Theology (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered: Religious Studies, Philosophy and Ethics+ 2 more

Religious Studies
Philosophy and Ethics
-Personal Statements-

“PERSONAL PROFILE  Hi Tutorweb students and parents!  My name is Lucia Roe and I'm currently at the University of Exeter studying BA Theology. I've just finished my second year and I'm happy to say that this year I achieved a2:1. Whil...”

MyTutor guarantee

About the author

PremiumJasmin T. GCSE English Literature tutor, A Level Religious Studies tu...
View profile
£22 /hr

Jasmin T.

Degree: Theology & Religion (Masters) - Birmingham University

Subjects offered: Religious Studies, Philosophy and Ethics+ 1 more

Religious Studies
Philosophy and Ethics
Classical Civilisation

“I have recently graduated from the University of Manchester with a 2.1 in Classical Studies and I am now pursuing my Masters degree followed then by a PhD both inTheology & Religion. As an academic, the most important thing for me to t...”

MyTutor guarantee

You may also like...

Other GCSE Religious Studies questions

What is the fundamental Problem of Evil?

How would I answer a question that gives a statement and asks me to: “1. Answer whether I agree with the statement and reasons for my opinion 2. Give reasons for why some people might disagree with you.”?

In Buddhism, what are the five precepts? And why do they matter?

How do you use 90mins to write 6 short essays? It is very difficult as i always run out of time.

View GCSE Religious Studies tutors


We use cookies to improve our service. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss