LOGOS War essay

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Module 107: Brothers in Arms- Is war justifiable? Look closely at 2 or 3 philosophical arguments for or against “war”.

War is defined as the “state of armed conflict between different countries or different groups within a country” (Oxford Dictionaries, 2012 and is typically characterised as being extremely violent, resulting in high rates of mortality. There are many philosophical and theological arguments supporting and contesting its justification. From a moral perspective, killing another human being in warfare cannot be justified as it breaches International law (Bica, 2007). Similarly, many scholars within the Christian and Catholic faith cannot justify war as it violates moral principles and teachings (Cole, 2012; Nohar, 2008 & Tremblay, 2003). However, from a political perspective, engaging in warfare can be justified when it complies with certain philosophical and ethical criteria, such as just-war theory (Egan & Rakoczy, 2011 & Nohar,2008). Both the Soviet and Totalitarian philosophy can justify war as it is believed to be a natural aspect of human nature (Kohn, 1940 & White, 1936). Furthermore, many scholars believe that war is justified when used as a remedy for injustice (Nohar, 2008; Slomp, 2006; Smith, 1990; Tremblay, 2003 & White, 1936). Therefore, War can be both justified and unjustified depending on the perspective of an individual. Based on moral beliefs, killing another human being in warfare cannot be justified (Bica, 2007; Cole, 2012; Nohar, 2008 & Tremblay, 2003). According to Bica (2007), war is typified by extreme aggression, murder, genocide and crimes against humanity. This makes war a direct breach of International law, reinforcing the belief that war is unjustified. Bica (2007) defines moral principles as the “recognition of the intrinsic worth of all human beings as embodied in the principle of respect for persons” (p.627). Bica (2007) then asserts that people are moral beings and are humanly obligated to respect human life, treating others as an “ends in themselves and not only as a means to achieving [their] own ends” (p.628). Again, this reinforces the belief that war is unjustified as it violates moral principles. Furthermore, within religious moral principles, war cannot be justified under Christian and Catholic values as it is typically violent in nature, resulting in high rates of mortality (Tremblay, 2003). According to Cole (2012), the engagement in war contradicts the Golden Rule, which instructs human beings to treat others as one would wish to be treated. Furthermore, within the Roman Catholic moral principles, war and war tactics, such as torture, contradicts human dignity, violating both the absolute commandment of “thou shalt not kill” (Nohar, 2008) as well as “the imago Dei (image of God) in human beings” (Cole, 2012, p.29). Tremblay (2003) quotes Paul’s biblical passage in Romans 12:17, stating that “one must not render evil for evil but overcome it with good” (p.17), further reinforcing the religious moral belief that war cannot be justified. Additionally, while some cases of warfare may have a perceived just cause, such as defending the lives and way of life of fellow citizens against an aggressor; those fighting on behalf of that aggressor are acting on unjust causes and therefore lack any justification to engage in war (Nohar, 2008). Therefore, from a moral standpoint, engaging in warfare cannot be justified as it breaches moral principles within both religious and secular teachings.
However, many scholars believe that war can be justified when used as a remedy for injustice (Nohar, 2008; Slomp, 2006; Smith, 1990; Tremblay, 2003 & White, 1936). This includes the right to self-defence, which can be used to argue contemporary moral philosophers who have challenged the validity of just-war theory, questioning the exclusion of warfare killings from the fundamental prohibition of murder (Nohar, 2008). Tremblay (2003) quotes the Augustine belief that one’s only reason…