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Hedley Bull and Just War: Missed opportunities and lessons to be learned

Williams, John

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This article explores the reasons for the absence of a systematic engagement with the tradition of Just War in the political theory of Hedley Bull, despite his recognition of war as a key institution of international society and his engagement with normative aspects of International Relations and the thought of Hugo Grotius, a key figure in the Just War tradition. Developing work arguing for Bull’s highly problematic reading of Grotius, the article considers the impact of philosophical and methodological aspects of Bull’s work to explain his rejection of Just War and to argue that this rejection is neither plausible nor beneficial to Bull’s engagement with war as an institution. Additionally, the article considers the potential for and benefits of engagement between English School theory and the Just War tradition for efforts within the English School to more effectively establish its normative dimension.


Williams, J. (2010). Hedley Bull and Just War: Missed opportunities and lessons to be learned. European Journal of International Relations, 16(2), 179-196.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Mar 1, 2010
Deposit Date Sep 13, 2010
Publicly Available Date Mar 19, 2013
Journal European Journal of International Relations
Print ISSN 1354-0661
Electronic ISSN 1460-3713
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Issue 2
Pages 179-196
Keywords English School, jus ad bellum, jus in bello, Moral scepticism, Natural Law, Normative theory.


Accepted Journal Article (293 Kb)

Copyright Statement
The final definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal European journal of international relations 16/2, © The Author(s) 2010 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the journal of international relations page: on SAGE Journals Online:

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