Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies

The Triumph and Tragedy: The Victory of Just War

Dr Cian O'Driscoll (Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of Glasgow)

20 October 2015

Dr Cian O'Driscoll presenting the seminar

This seminar was presented by Dr Cian O'Driscoll


What does it mean to win a just war? Is victory essential to the notion of just war insofar as a just war is, by definition, a war that it is necessary to win? Or is the idea of ‘winning’ a crude misnomer when applied to the mechanised slaughter of contemporary armed conflict?

This seminar addressed these question by examining how the ideal of victory has been treated in different historical articulations of the just war idea, from classical Greece to the present day. During the seminar Dr Cian O'Driscoll arguerd that the concept of victory offers a useful prism through which to consider the potentialities and limitations of just war thinking as it has unfolded over time. The principal outcome of this is to draw attention to the problematic understanding of 'war' that underlies contemporary accounts of just war.