The War on Terror and the Question of Justice

Addison, Brandi
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This thesis project uses the Just War Tradition to consider if the War on Terror qualifies as an ethical war. The question is difficult because the War on Terror differs so markedly from traditional wars that have been fought. Thus, I begin by establishing facts and background information about the war on terror. This reveals why its ethical dimension is difficult to analyze. I then turn to the just war tradition, examining some of the many different authors who have contributed to it, in order to see what different conditions authors have deemed necessary for a just war. I also consider the kinds of claims the tradition puts forward. Are the so-called “just war criteria” to be understood as legal claims, moral imperatives, ethical advice, or what? This turns out to be an important consideration, because it determines how the tradition should be applied to any particular case. Lastly, I analyze two specific claims of the just war tradition in reference to the War on Terror, whether or not there was a “legitimate authority” and the “likelihood of success.”