Historiography of Just War Theory

Book chapter

Reichberg, Gregory M. (2016) Historiography of Just War Theory, in The Oxford Handbook of Ethics of War. Oxford: Oxford University Press

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This chapter examines the historiography of just war theory. It starts off by showing how the concept of war has remained far from constant from one period to another and why recognition of these shifts in meaning is a prerequisite for historical reflection in this domain. Proceeding afterwards to explain why histories of the just war ‘tradition’ have been written, in what historical contexts and in view of what aims, it is shown how few of these histories have been recounted as purely descriptive exercises. Displaying the normative options that have oriented historical methodology in this field is thus a principal task of this chapter. Finally, to exhibit the salience of just war historiography for contemporary theorising, this chapter concludes with a reflection on the antecedents to our present debate on the moral equality of combatants.

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