Jacques Maritain: Christian Theorist of Non-Violence and Just War

Journal article

Reichberg, Gregory M. (2017) Jacques Maritain: Christian Theorist of Non-Violence and Just War, Journal of Military Ethics 16 (4): 220–238.

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Jacques Maritain (1882–1973) is widely recognized as one of the foremost Catholic philosophers of modern times. He wrote groundbreaking works in all branches of philosophy. For a period of about 10 years, beginning in 1933, he discussed matters relating to war and ethics. Writing initially about Gandhi, whose strategy of non-violence he sought to incorporate within a Christian conception of political action, Maritain proceeded to comment more specifically on the religious aspects of armed force in “On Holy War,” an essay about the civil war then ongoing in Spain (1936–1939). After the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, Maritain penned a series of essays that sought to explain why the Anglo–French declarations of war were warranted on Christian just war principles. While the secondary literature on Maritain’s thought is extensive, thus far there has been little systematic exploration of his writings on war. In what follows I seek to remedy this lacuna, by examining how he conceptualized just war in the three phases outlined above.

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