Studies in the History of Ethics: Andrew Fiala

Studies in the History of Ethics: Andrew Fiala

Hegel’s approach has something in common with the just war tradition, especially with those who understand just war theory as part of a larger Christian theological doctrine aiming at a conception of the proper relation between Christian faith and political power.[5] For Hegel, theological or spiritual interpretations of war remind us that morality and individuality are contained within a larger spiritual whole. Morality and individuality are not eliminated by adopting this larger perspective. But for Hegel, the larger historical point of view shows us these goods only exist within historically given Sittlichkeit. Thus the state is the higher good that should be preserved even at the expense of sacrifices of individuality and moral purity. In this sense Hegel’s ideas have something in common with the “Christian realist” approach of Reinhold Niebuhr.[6] And Hegel’s approach could be understood as one attempt to accomplish the “Augustinian” compromise that is part of just war thinking. This compromise acknowledges the importance oftranquillitas ordinis. As George Weigel explains this idea, it is “the order created by just political community and mediated through law.”[7] From this perspective, just wars are fought in defense of the tranquility of a well-ordered political community. This is a compromise insofar as seemingly immoral means will have to be employed in pursuit of the higher good of defending the well-ordered political community.

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