Is a just nuclear war possible, according to the Augustinian-Thomistic just war theories?



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This essay sets forth some of the intellectual groundwork for applying the principle of double effect in order to determine whether or not a just nuclear war is possible. The methodology employed in this essay is to examine three issues-the killing of the innocent, the purpose of war, and American nuclear strategy-from several different perspectives including those of Augustine and Aquinas, in order to begin the process of recovering the Augustinian-Thomistic just war theories. In addition, as part of the analysis of American nuclear strategy, this essay examines a recently proposed new form of deterrence: Star Wars deterrence. This new kind of deterrence may actually be able to satisfy the criteria of the Augustinian-Thomistic just war theories, if a defensive nuclear war ever has to be fought.



Nuclear warfare