How Plausible Is The Claim That There Is No Moral Justification For Warfare?

1149 words - 5 pages

Before attempting to justify warfare, we first have to assess the term justice and its significance in warfare. Justice is crucial in this discussion because it has taken over from religion as a basis for moral judgement when fighting a war. Historically, medieval Christian ethics were the justifications for warfare, as was apparent throughout the Crusades. Justice became the highest moral value after the conflict between Christ as a pacifist and the fight to spread Christianity. From this stemmed the principles of the just war tradition. There are seven principles of just war tradition and they are referred to as "ius ad bellum," which translates from Latin to read 'justice of going to war.' This tradition of restrictions has influenced modern declarations and treaties concerning the conduct of war.The word war can have many different meanings: nuclear wars; conventional wars; world wars; civil wars; religious wars; tribal wars; revolutionary wars; trade wars and others. Even if we consider the 'simple' form of a conventional war between two countries, there are certain moral issues that have to be addressed. Was the government justified in committing the country to war? Should the use of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons be undertaken? Can the military authorities use methods of torture on its prisoners?There are as many different degrees of pacifism as there is patriotism but no recognizable version allows killing even as a defensive act. Absolute pacifists agree with the title and say that it is never right to kill another person, however evil the consequences of not doing so. This is due to their key principle being the sanctity of life.Many people take the view that it is always wrong for a government to start a war, but always legitimate for a government to meet external aggression with force. Most people will casually accept the reasons that a government offers for acts of war and these include the people that are readily against abortion and euthanasia on the grounds of a belief in the sanctity of life. "We, as rational humans, regard killing in war as less serious than other deliberate killing." (Glover)Private acts of killing are extremely hard to justify. Wars are killing on a larger scale and are therefore that much harder to justify. The greater the war looks like being, the greater the evil it must avert to be justified. In some cases, there is the danger that a conventional war may escalate into a nuclear one. With all these arguments against war, it is possible that war is sometimes the lesser evil, and perhaps the Second World War was one of those times. Such a decision can only be reached by calculating gains against loses. If other governments had foreseen what the Nazis would do, they would probably have been right to invade Germany to remove Hitler in the early 1930's. This would have avoided far worse calamities that actually took place.Another subject to be considered, once a war is underway, is are there any moral...

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