Application of ethical theories to war and peace

  • Created by: mermaids_
  • Created on: 14-04-14 18:05

Christian ethics

  • The Bible presents no single viewpoint on war and peace.
  • The Old Testemnt shows both a revengeful God who destroys the enemies of his people and a God of peace.
  • The New Testemnt says nothing about war between state, but many things such as 'Blessed are the peacemakers', 'turn the other cheek' and 'love your enemies' seem to imply a pacifists position.
  • The teaching about love and the desire to protect the innocent will lead to most christians to follow the Just War theory, but some will follow a pacifist approach.
1 of 4

Natural law

  • The primary precept of protecting innocent life will mean that a follower of Natural law will follow the Just War Theory.
  • Natural law would also consider the motives for going to war the cause and intention.
  • War should be to promote peace and harmonious society.
  • Just war is Natural Law in practise of warfare.
  • The doctrine of double effect can be applied in war, for exampke, bombing a civilian area that contains an enemy command post- the intention is to destroy the command post not the civilians.
2 of 4


  • War is good if it produces good results-the loss of life and suffering have to be outweighed by the benefit.
  • It is difficult to apply the Hedonic Calculus to war as there are too many uncertainties.
  • Like Just War Theory, utilitarianism would assess the liklihood of success-the ends must always justify the means.
3 of 4

Kantain ethics

  • Applying the categorical imperative to issues surrounding war and peace is not simple.
  • It is difficult to universalise killing and Kant would not allow killingfor some greater good, nor would he allow people to be used as a means to an end.Howeverif going to war in self defence, war would be eliminated.
  • Kant does emphasise duty- this would include the duty of a soldier to defend his country and to protect the innocent , so conflict can sometimes change society for the better.
  • Living in a kingdom of ends is reflected in on perpetual peace where he recommends a federation of states which forbade war- this was the forerunner of the league of nations and then the UN
  • Kant's deontological ethics is sometimes teleological when it comes to war.
4 of 4


No comments have yet been made

Similar Religious Studies resources:

See all Religious Studies resources »See all Ethics resources »