News

March 3, 2008

Peter Dimmick ’08 Explores the Possibility of ‘Justice After War’

Religion and politics major is working on honors research with Stephen Lammers, Manson Professor of the English Bible

Peter Dimmick ’08 (Sewickley, Pa.) is majoring in religion and politics. He is currently working on his honors thesis “Justice After War” with Stephen Lammers, Helen H.P. Manson Professor of the English Bible. The following is a firsthand account of Dimmick’s experiences with his thesis.

The idea to attempt a thesis in the area of just war theory really came from my friendship with Professor Stephen Lammers of the Religious Studies department. The long discussions in Professor Lammers’ office on the morality of warfare shall be the lasting memory of Lafayette College for me after I graduate in May.

Professor Lammers passed me an article one day from a military ethics symposium written by Camilla Bosanquet, a professor at the United States Coast Guard Academy, entitled “Refining Jus Post Bellum.” Bosanquet analyzes current work being done to construct a jus post bellum criteria, a list of obligations for actors after war in addition to just war theory, which contains moral criteria concerning before and during war. She points out the problem that just war theory gives moral criteria for when it is justified to go to war and how one must act during war, but does not yet have a set of criteria for after war. Upon reading the article, I knew my thesis focus had literally been tossed in my lap.

I always had the ambition to write a thesis on a topic that was groundbreaking, edgy, and current. Clearly, discussing war and peace combines the two parts of my major, religion and politics, extremely well. But also, the demand for an ethical blueprint of what obligations exist after war is at a new high given the United States currently trying to rebuild Afghanistan and Iraq.

In addition, a jus post bellum criteria always seemed necessary to me given that just war theory desires war in only limited circumstances to produce a peaceful end. Given these points, it is my hope that even people outside of religious studies and government and law will want to engage the topic and be drawn to my work.

Looking forward, completing an honors thesis will help with my goals after graduation. I have applied to multiple graduate school programs for future work in religious ethics. My hope is to acquire a Ph.D. and go into academia where my passions for my subject will be combined with my love for teaching. The road ahead will be challenging in terms of my thesis and career, but the work I put in here at Lafayette I know will have long-term returns.

Dimmick is the co-founder of “The Journey,” an on-campus group that looks to create a community of differing perspectives on religion. The group addresses life issues that college students face and how religion relates to them. He is the vice president of W.O.R.D.S. (Writing Organization Reaching Dynamic Students) and a member of the Ice Hockey Team and the College Choir. Dimmick also performed EXCEL research with Lammers in spring 2007 working on a new book on a ‘just war’ critique of the Iraq War.

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