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War & Peace
There are 3 main approaches to issues surrounding war and peace:
1. Just War Theory the belief that war is morally justified if it meets certain
2. Realism says that basically ethics has nothing to do with war. War is
often necessary to promote security, survival and economic growth.
3. Pacifism The belief that violence is wrong.
The Just War Theory
Jus ad bellum concerns the justice of resorting to war in the first place.
1. Just authority. War only stated by a legitimate authority i.e. government.
2. Just cause. Those attacked should deserve it on account of some fault,
can't fight a war out of retribution.
3. Just Intention. Should have good motives. Advancement of good and
avoidance of evil.
4. Proportionality between the injustice that led to war and the damage done
by war, in terms of suffering and loss of human life.
5. Last Resort. All peaceful attempts at resolution must have been
exhausted before violence used.
6. Reasonable chance of success. There should be a fair change the war
will be won. It is immoral to enter into a hopeless war, thus magnifying the
suffering and loss of life for no constructive purpose.
7. Comparative Justice. Both sides to the conflict must be fairly considered.
Jus in bello concerns the justice of conduct during the war.
1. Proportionality. Proportional force to achieve the end they seek.
2. Discrimination and noncombatant immunity. Those at war have an
obligation to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate targets
of destruction and between innocent civilians and those involved in
waging the war.
3. Obey all international laws on weapons. Chemical and biological
weapons are banned.
4. Fair treatment of prisoners of war. Wrong to torture or mistreat. Enemy
soldiers who surrender or who are captured no longer pose a threat.
5. No means mala in se. Soldiers may not use weapons or methods of
warfare that are evil in themselves. Mass rapes or genocide cannot be
6. No reprisals. Escalates violence. Respect rights of its own citizens even
though it is engaged in war.
Jus post bellum concerns the justice of peace agreements & ending the war.
1. Proportionality. The peace treaty should be reasonable and not seek to
2. Discriminations. A distinction needs to be made between the leaders, the
soldiers and the civilians in the defeated country. Civilians should be
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Rights vindication. The settlement should secure the rights to life and
liberty, territory and sovereignty, especially any violations that may have
triggered war. This means that the war and subsequent peace treaty will
actually have an improving effect on the country.
4. Punishments. Where necessary any leaders of an oppressive regime who
engaged in massive human rights violations should face international war
5. Compensation.…read more
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Preferences taken into account.
Preferential option over violence as was is so destructive.
Bonhoeffer Christian pacifist who took part in a failed plot against Hitler
was later hung.
Clearcut, it opposes all forms Allows evil to dominate
of violence. State has a duty to protect its
Promotes the absolute value of citizens.
human life. Pacifism is wrong because it
Follows the teaching of Jesus. denies the right to selfdefence.
We do not live in a world based
on pacifism.…read more