Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Relations

First Advisor's Name

Harry Gould

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Paul Warren

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Mohiaddin Mesbahi

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Alexander Barder

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


just war, cosmopolitanism, political realism, ethics, Stoicism, philosophy, security

Date of Defense



The ancient philosophy of Stoicism, itself one of the foundations for international law, can improve contemporary just war thinking by forming a coherent set of philosophical principles to serve as a foundation for a just war theory. A Stoic approach considers justifications for moral actions to come not from an appeal to human rights, conformity to deontological rules, or from the utility of the actions themselves, but from virtuous character traits and corresponding virtuous actions. As such, a Stoic approach to just war theory is a virtue ethics perspective in which metaethical incentive for moral action is the agent’s own flourishing and successful life (eudaimonia). Such a theory is concerned with ‘internal justice’ rather than the ‘external justice’ of international laws, rules, or norms. Stoic justice is based on the conception of oikeiosis, with its dual aspects: the presumed natural desire for self-preservation, leading to the selection of things appropriate to the human constitution; and the supposed social instinct, most notably exemplified by affection for those in the agent’s ‘concentric circles of concern.’ As equally a natural law theory and a virtue ethic, Stoic just war theory also attempts to answer points of contention between political realism and cosmopolitanism. This work outlines and, in a precursory way, develops other implications of Stoic philosophy for just war theory derived from relevant (and salvageable) Stoic positions on physics and metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, moral psychology, and political philosophy. This project also examines the actions of ancient Stoic- or Stoically inclined- statemen in order to demonstrate the possibility, within its historical context, of Stoic justice in warfare. The Stoic just war theory answers problems and criticisms from other positions on natural law, virtue ethics, and just war. A minor theme of this project attempts to develop an education program in Stoic just war theory based on the ancient Stoics’ own program for education.





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