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Is War Ever Justified?

Reasons for Going War:

Land Grab, empire
Politics, against leader/dictator e.g Saddam Hussein
Self Defence
Human Rights Defence
Nuclear Threat

Why do people today hold such strong views about war?

Today, war is such a big issue because the world feels a…

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Origins of Just War

Aristotle and Cicero first suggested it
Augustine of Hippo and Ambrose of Milan believed war should only be waged as a
last resort, by a government authority to restore peace. No massacres and no
revenge killings
Aquinas believed war was sinful but drew up the rules…

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How did the catholic bishops try to address this in 1983?

the claims of both sides must be evaluated before war can be started. It is called
comparative justice
There must be a reasonable chance of success to prevent the irrational resort to
force or hopeless resistance when the outcome…

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Right Intention

Just having a reason for war is not enough it must be moral- but what intention is the
right one?

These can be relative e.g. Vikings believe it was justified to seek wealth by raping and
pillaging wherever they went and the crusaders believed it was right to…

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Justice during war- usually the commanders and soldiers responsibility- can be put on trial
for war crimes

Proportionality- do not forget the suffering of those on the other side, has to be tactically
necessary e.g. Dresden, Hiroshima

Discrimination- avoid collateral damage to civilians- problem of guerrilla warfare- landmines-
nuclear bombs…

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Elements of Just War Theory

Deontological Consequentialist
Legitimate authority Likelihood for success
Last resort
Just Cause
Right Intention

Strengths Weaknesses

Allows defence of weaker parties Too vague to apply
New developments such as Terrorists just ignore the rules
Weapons of Mass Destruction anyway
still need a moral frame work Unrealistic…

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Realists fully appreciate the horrors of war and so, like others, try to assess the costs, but
they also respond to war in terms of its benefits. War sometimes gives a state extra land or
resources. Realists argue that war is a non moral activity- actions such as killing,…

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Peace= good
Respect human life = good

All war = bad
Killing people= bad

Reject just war theory and realism, things should be sorted out with discussion for example
through the UN

Absolute Pacifism- Quakers

Never right/justified to use violence no matter what the consequences e.g holocaust would

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Merton: was a Catholic monk in the 20th century who wanted to win peoples minds instead
of reacting violently. This is the Vatican's view on war

Wink: protestant writer who says Augustine's just war theory has made Christianity war

Contingent Pacificism

a plan designed to take a possible future…


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