Just War Thinkers - from Cicero to the 21st Century

By Constantin, Georgiana | Studia Politica; Romanian Political Science Review, July 1, 2018 | Go to article overview

Just War Thinkers - from Cicero to the 21st Century


Constantin, Georgiana, Studia Politica; Romanian Political Science Review


DANIEL R. BRUNSTETTER AND CIAN O'DRISCOLL (eds.) Just War Thinkers - From Cicero to the 21st Century Routledge Taylor and Francis Group, London and New York, 2018, 264 pp.

The literature on just war theory is rich and has been constantly growing over time. From the early stages of the theory's development when its principles were simply philosophical observations of renowned thinkers from different parts of the word to the present time when the theory has gained both structure and influence, one can follow the course it has taken throughout history by examining numerous sources. Some of the principles which make up the theory as we know it today can also be found in works such as the Sanskrit Itihasa, the Chinese art of war corpus, the numerous works of Western thinkers such as Cicero and Saint Augustine. In the present time there continues to be interest and countless writings on the theory such as those of Elshtain, Ramsey and McMahan. In fact, the just war theory has given rise to one of the most significant developments in recent international law history, the responsibility to protect doctrine, which is strongly based upon its principles.

A recent addition to the collection of works on just war theory is the volume Just War Thinkers - From Cicero to the 21st Century, edited by Daniel R. Brunstetter and Cian O'Driscoll. The recently published book strives to offer "a set of concise and accessible introductions to the seminal figures in the historical development of the just war tradition."1 Indeed, it gives succinct yet valuable insights into the writings and lives of 19 notable just war thinkers. The book brings together a number of important theorists and makes their ideas more easily accessible to students and researchers of politics and war through well-structured essays on their works. Whereas most just war authors, such as Walzer for instance, focus on in depth analyses of the concept or its principles in a certain context, this collaborative work brings a welcomed introductory look into the theory itself and its development over time. Its main contribution to the current literature lies in its brief and accessible overviews of great thinkers' ideas on just war which are useful to both the student and the scholar.

The editors, Brunstetter and O'Driscoll also add their own contributions to this volume. Daniel Brunstetter, Associate Political Science Professor at the University of California, Irvine has written many articles and book chapters on ethics. Among his writings is also the volume "The Ethics OF War and Peace Revisited", which he published alongside Jean-Vincent Holeindre. Cian O 'Driscoll, University of Glasgow Senior Lecturer in Politics also wrote, published and co-edited important works on the topic of just war, such as "The Renegotiation of the Just War Tradition and the Right to War in the TwentyFirst Century".

The contributors to the book are notable experts in their field. They include James Turner Johnson, Gavin Steward, Stephanie Carvin and others. There are 19 contributors, one for each just war thinker presented. Alex J. Bellamy, a professor at the University of Queensland, Australia and Director of the Asia Pacific Center for the Responsibility to Protect is among the contributors. "The Responsibility to Protect" (R2P) principle about which Bellamy wrote extensively, is based heavily on the Just War Theory. Another contributor whose interest lies with the principle of R2P is Luke Glanville. His book, "Sovereignty and the Responsibility to Protect: A new history" explored the history of R2P and the concept of sovereignty through history.

The book Just War Thinkers- From Cicero to the 21st Century is structured chronologically. It has 19 chapters, one for each author analyzed. Its first four chapters focus on Marcus Tullius Cicero, St. Augustine, Gratian, and Thomas Aquinas. It continues with a lesser known but welcomed addition, Christine de Pizan. Although her influence was not as great as that of other writers and her works not as extensive, she expressed noteworthy ideas about justice and war. …

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