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This response to Father Schall's article explores just how three principles, which he proposes in general terms as central to integrity in moral reasoning and decision over the use of military force, serve, in fact, to organize an assessment of the rights and wrongs of actions by states and individuals within a conflict like the one coming to a crisis on September 11th. In the course of its analysis, the article means to show that prudence has a role, not only once the requirements of justice are satisfied, as a too casual reading of Father Schall's article might perhaps imply, but rather, in keeping with the larger import of Father Schall's argument, at the moment of first evaluating facts as in or out of accord with distinctions arising under the principles of justice he elaborates.

In particular, the article calls attention to ontological assumptions underlying such threshold judgments of prudence. It then concludes by arguing that the dependence of prudential judgment on these assumptions means that America's war effort cannot be justified in a simply static sense, but, rather, that it may licitly be pursued only as a part of a larger plan of commitment, also undertaken as a matter of law and politics, to preserve the ontological conditions essential to the nation's integrity as it resorts to arms.



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