Inexpressibility in Augustine’s Just War Theory: Lessons for Modern Warfare

Publication Year:
Usage 648
Downloads 556
Abstract Views 92
Repository URL:
Beard, Matt
Catholic Institute of Sydney
Augustine; Inexpressibility; Just War Theory; Divine; War; Iraq; Secrecy; Patriotism; Just Cause; Authority; Arts and Humanities; Philosophy
conference paper description
St. Augustine's Just War Theory is relatively unique in the history of just war in that he relies heavily on Divine involvement in his doctrine of just war. God is the ultimate source of the justice of all wars, and his command is the source of justice for some wars. Furthermore, the authority of political leaders is also derived from God. This is problematic for Augustine's theory because it renders the causa justa of wars inexpressible to the subjects of the sovereign, who are forced to rely on the sovereign's (divinely originated) authority. Although these ideas may seem a long way from the state-of-affairs in war today, I will suggest that notions like the privilege of state secrecy, the implied expertise of political leaders, and the coercive power of patriotism represent new manifestations of the inexpressibility of the Divine in the modern-day practice of warfare.