Just War in the Thought of Paul Ramsey

Journal of Religious Ethics 19 (2):183 - 207 (1991)
An effort to recover and explicate the idea of just war in Christian terms spans Paul Ramsey's career for almost four decades, from his earliest book (1950: 166-84) to his last (1988). His writings on this subject constitute one of the most important thematic and substantive contributions of his thought. This essay begins with a summary of classical just war tradition and assesses the relation of Ramsey's conception of just war to it. Then it examines that conception in detail, focusing on three topics: the core idea of Christian love as an absolute moral norm expressed in the principle of discrimination, Ramsey's conversionist understanding of history and of politics that undergirds his argument from both discrimination and proportionality in conversation with the secular policy community, and the imbalance between treatment of the "jus in hello and the jus ad helium" in Ramsey's just war thought. Emphasis throughout is given to the influence of the contexts of debate in which Ramsey developed his ideas.
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