Ethics, Nationalism, and Just War: Medieval and Contemporary Perspectives

Edited volume

Syse, Henrik & Gregory M. Reichberg, eds, (2007) Ethics, Nationalism, and Just War: Medieval and Contemporary Perspectives. Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press.

At a time when moral questions about armed force are at the forefront of the public's attention, this volume offers insight on current challenges related to war, nationalism, and justice. Though recent publications on military ethics abound, this work adds to the debate by considering the historical background of just war theory in the Middle Ages, before going on to elucidating its contemporary challenges. The book covers a wide range of topics and raises issues rarely touched on in the ethics-of-war literature, such as environmental concerns and the responsibility of bystanders.

Following a general introduction by Henrik Syse and Gregory M. Reichberg, the book is divided into two main sections. The first addresses the cradle of the modern idea of just war in medieval Latin Christianity. The section discusses the relevance of medieval ideas to the modern setting, and explains why the study of the medieval roots of just-war thinking is so important even today. It includes essays on Ambrose, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Christine de Pizan, and Geoffrey Chaucer, not focusing, however, solely on the contributions of these writers but also providing an overall introduction to key concerns in medieval just war theorizing.

The second section of essays examines nationalism, intervention, preventive war, war crimes, and the environmental side-effects of war. All of these topics are treated within the relevant theoretical contexts, thus providing a rich overview of the state of the debate. While staying within the framework of a post-9-11 context, and raising several issues of relevance to the discussion about terrorism, this section also highlights several topics that have been overshadowed by the war on terror, but which merit attention in their own right.

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