We accept

Two Principles Of Ethics And War Politics Essay

Peace and war are two principles generally bound collectively. We can hardly ever address one of these issues without addressing the other and the knowledge of one particular two concepts increases the understanding of the other. This explains principally the choice of this matter: Ethics and War in a course entitled Peacefulness and Culture.

Peace is defined by the Oxford dictionary (2010) as: "a state or an interval where there are no conflict or war has ended". For many, the word serenity is merely the contrary of war plus they tend to establish serenity from what it is not. But how do we discuss of tranquility in countries where even though there is absolutely no conflict, people are deprived from independence of preference and from taking part in decisions that influence their own lives? Therefore, I trust Johan Galtung (1999) on his distinction between positive and negative peace. Galtung identifies negative calmness as the lack of violence and positive peacefulness as "more than the lack of violence, the occurrence of cultural justice through identical opportunity, a good distribution of electric power and resources, identical security and impartial enforcement of regulation". Thus the lack of war is just taking care of of calmness and in the absence of mechanisms to market positive tranquility, the negative tranquility may last simply for a short period.

Now, we shall consider this is of war. Like any public phenomenon, explanations are varied and generally, the suggested explanation expresses the author's broader politics or philosophical ideology. Karl von Clausewitz identifies conflict as "the continuation of politics by other means", and again as "an take action of violence intended to compel our competitors to fulfil our will" whereas, Denis Diderot feedback that war is "a convulsive and violent disease of the politics body".

Webster's dictionary defines conflict as circumstances of wide open and declared armed hostile turmoil between states or nations. This definition catches the fact that warfare must be announced which is between says or nations, thus individuals' attack cannot be considered as a conflict. Nevertheless, this definition is slim as, strictly discussing nations and expresses, it rejects civil conflict.

Furthermore, the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Viewpoint defines warfare as an actual, intentional and wide-spread armed conflict between political communities. This definition brings out the actual fact that conflict should be an equipped conflict currently existing, not merely potential or possible. Besides, by proclaiming that political neighborhoods can wage conflict, it allows for civil war. Again, it brings about an extension of this is of war that allows for battle on terror. The weakness of the definition is that it can specifically declare that a warfare must be announced by a competent expert of either political community.

There is not a universally agreed description of war; each definition of war featuring its strengths and its own weaknesses. More central to the debate are the moral question that the concept of war increases: Is conflict right? Devote a different way: Is battle ever before justified? Or, can battle be justified? As we will see in the continuation of this essay, just how of establishing this question already gives an understanding of the author's ideology. The first one presupposes that war is just but it may sometimes be utilized pervasively and the second takes as idea that battle is morally wrong but there may be situations whenever we can income a war.

Ethics and war

There a wide range of philosophical theories that relate with war. As recently said, one of the serious moral question battle raises: Is conflict morally justifiable? All of the philosophical theories on this topic can more or less fit into three categories:

Political Realism

Just Conflict Theory


Political Realism

Political realism, simply referred to as realism, is a university of thinking in the international relationships self-discipline. Though realism has many sub-categories, there are a few common characteristics to all those sub-categories. Politics realism makes an attempt to explain and prescribe national interest as the primary motive in political relations. It has a strong doubt on the possible application of moral ideas such as justice, ethics. . . to international relations. The advocates of realism place a great focus on electric power and security issues and think that the international world is a sort of anarchy.

Again, for the promoters of realism, the one parameter to consider before waging a warfare is national interest. War is usually to be resorted to as long as national interest is concerned. This could be explained by the actual fact that they consider conflict as inevitable plus they have confidence in the concept of the survival of the fittest. Only the pursuits of the fittest could be performed and war can be used to determine who is the fittest.

Realism theories' root base can be traced far in history, a few of the traditional realists being: Thucydides, Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes and Spinoza. Some modern realists are: Hans Morgenthau, George Kennan, Reinhold Niebuhr and Henry Kissinger. To the list we can also add neo-realists such as Kenneth Waltz.

A new manifestation of realism in the penultimate century came into the proper execution of public Darwinism, whose adherents advocated that races, communities, groups were subject to the same laws and regulations of natural selection produced by Charles Darwin on pets and plant life in nature. Like the realists, they advocated the actual fact that cultural and political expansion was at the mercy of the basic principle of success of the fittest.

Realism could be separated in two branches:

Descriptive political realism

Prescriptive political realism

The variation between those two varieties of realism is based on the primary purpose of the idea. A theory will be labeled as descriptive if its most important target is to make clear international relationships or categorised as prescriptive if its principal goal is to advise on how international relations should be handled.

Descriptive realism is the contention that nations or expresses either do not (are not encouraged to) or cannot (because they're unable to) behave morally. It helps the theory that expresses lack the morality and justice sensitivity. It argues again that expresses and individuals are different creations, thus we cannot apply the same guidelines and principles to both.

The main criticism to descriptive realism is the fact that nations or expresses are ruled by humans who are cartoon in conditions of morality and justice and even if those leaders are not, they can be accountable to a people who is cartoon in conditions of morality and justice. Again, the view that morality is not applied to international relations does not mean that it should not.

Prescriptive politics realism says that state governments should act amorally on the international area in other to achieve their own interest. Its advocates argue that countries or claims must pursue their own interest whatever the real condition of international relationships. This theory has many obscured parts starting from what the national interest is said to be or the permissibility to hire any means so far as it takes one to his objectives. This could bring in regards to a variety of interpretations.

Some creators such as Plato and Aristotle have proposed economic and political self-sufficiency as the key nationwide interest. If this is the case, then you don't have to go to battle as this interest may be accomplished by means other than war. One modern day example to demonstrate this is China.

As an illustration again, mercantilists have argued that the monetary sufficiency of an nation can only just be achieved at the expense of others. Consequently, one should not be concerned about other nations when countrywide interest is achieved. On the other hand, Adam smith and David Ricardo have argued that financial interests of various nations could be achieved with a good organisation of world trade.

Are there always means other than war by which a state or a country can achieve its interest and protect its security?

Just Conflict Theory

Just conflict (in Latin: Justum bellum) theory is an extremely famous point of view of ethics of warfare. In the recent years, the Invasion of Iraq has re-opened the controversy on when conflict is permissible. This theory is somehow midway to political realism on one aspect and pacifism on the other side. It is generally worried about the rationalisation of why and how wars are fought. Put this way, one should not think that it encourages battle, on the other hand, it prohibits legislations but allows for special circumstances under which a nation or a state gets the right (not the obligation) to resort to armed issues. Before talking about the criteria that qualify war as a just battle, we will briefly look at only conflict classics and advocates.

Just war ideas can be tracked far back record, at least to Cicero. In its origins, just battle is a blend of Greco-roman and Religious values. As classical and advocates, we can speak about: Cicero, Aristotle, Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, Francisco de Vitoria, Francisco Suarez, Hugo Grotius and recently, Immanuel Kant. Nowadays, most of the international conventions and charters, namely the United Nations Charter and the Hague and the Geneva Conventions, can find their ideological root base in just warfare theory.

The just conflict theory was generally divided into two parts but more recently, we have see the emergence of a third part:

Jus advertisement bellum: prior to the conflict, there are guidelines and requirements that determine when and under which circumstances a nation may wage a war

Jus in bellum: These guidelines should be applied during the warfare. They cover the manner in which battle should be conducted

Jus post bellum: when war terminates, how are tranquility agreements put in place and accountability and responsibility of warring get-togethers assessed.

It is worth noting a war is considered a just warfare only if it was permissible in the beginning, carried out following guidelines and the post-war agreements put in place are fair to both gatherings. If one of the three steps is left out, then the war ceases to be a just war. Inside the continuation of this essay, we will use the Latin appellations of those fractions of just war.

Jus ad Bellum

The jus advertising bellum are a set of requirements that need to be fulfilled before releasing a warfare that is considered just. Which means that they help choose whether to resort to a specific war or not. The conditions are: just cause, right intention, proper power and consumer declaration, last resort, possibility of success and proportionality. One may easily observe that the ideas are neither wholly deontological (their rightness being determined by their intrinsic qualities), nor wholly teleological or consequentialist (their rightness being dependant on their consequences). It really is a careful mixture of both models.

Just Cause

First and most important, there need be a justified reason before resorting to battle. Self-defence is decided by many theorists (except the definite pacifists, as we will have later) as a just cause. The main consensus here's that the initiation of use of push is wrong and can justly be resisted. Many modern creators acknowledge self-defence from aggressors as a just cause plus they also consider as just causes: correcting a wrong such as defence of others, safeguard of innocent lives and retribution for an incorrect.

The main argument is dependant on the question: is pre-emptive reach allowed if there is a risk of aggression on the nation? Or, if the nation await an aggression to actually take place? We've two main reactions to this question, the first being that you should wait for the aggression to really take place. The justification because of this being you are unable to punish someone for what he has not yet done. The next view is less restrictive as it permits pre-emptive attacks only on the floor that there surely is serious proof an aggression. This is the view applied by america of America on the bombing of Iraq. Pre-emptive attacks will be taken away by just warfare theory as a just cause this because it may give room for many to salary just wars under the fallacious pretext of serious threat.

Right Intention

This criterion may sometimes be lost with just cause. Despite the fact that they go towards the same path, there are not totally similar. This criterion is concerned with the motives of waging the conflict. To illustrate this, circumstances A may be attacked by another status B. A has a just cause of resorting to conflict but can have other motives such as self-interest, demonstrating national power and might not resort to conflict solely for the intended purpose of justice. This cannot be considered a just war as a result of motives behind the vacation resort to warfare. Thus a country should solely be encouraged by its just cause; grudges and self-interest rejected as just triggers.

Proper Expert and Open public Declaration

The war needs to be lawfully declared to be always a just war, this implies declared by the appropriate authority of the state of hawaii or region (authorities, monarch. . . ), following appropriate method as stated by the international and national regulations. Again, the war should be made general population both to the citizens of the said region and the foe state(s) or nation(s). Nearly and sometimes there are realistic uncertainties on which of two government authorities is the authentic government of an country. This happens in instances whereby a prior federal has been overthrown unconstitutionally. This example can bring about serious troubles in determining who is genuine to declare a battle.

In modern times, there have been some arguments towards the United Nations as a lawful power to declare a war, because it is actually the supreme power on the planet. Again from a tight legal perspective and regarding to Article 2. 4 of the Charter, the member gave up their to wage war. This post expresses that: "all People shall refrain in their international relations from the risk or use of power resistant to the territorial integrity or political independence of any condition, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the US". Nearly, the UN does not declare wars, though there were some conditions of lawful authorisation (in the event the United States of America to take action in Afghanistan under the right of do it yourself defence). The exact power to declare conflict resides with the individual states rather than with the United Nations.

Last Resort

A just warfare is waged only as a final holiday resort, when other plausible non-violent alternatives are fatigued. Other alternatives include diplomacy, monetary and financial sanctions, United Nations condemnation, etc. . . It is said that violence breeds more violence which is less expensive to avoid a battle than to attempt to stop it when it has started out. The sovereignty to choose if all the means are worn out is still left to the says but the United Nations prolongs diplomatic negotiation even though it appears all alternatives are tired.

Some writers have argued that the word last in the expression last resort does not refer to a sequence of your time. Instead, they believe that it means battle ought to be the least preferred action. This argument is quite similar to the other and somehow they indicate the same thing.

Probability of Success

This principle practices the consequencialist model. A land is going into a battle where it has a just cause, the right purpose and upon all a possibility of success. This to avoid futile and useless armed conflicts but this is often regarded as a bias against small countries or areas, as they don't always have probabilities of success and implicitly cannot wage a war even in the case of self-defence.


The final criterion of jus advertising bellum is the fact that prior to declaring the war, a state should ponder the expected come back of the warfare against the loss or casualties that will appear. The warfare should be declared only when the expected return from the war is worth the producing casualties.

The use of both deontological and teleological models escalates the flexibility of these principles but simultaneously opens the entranceway to different interpretations because of the lack of rigorous ethical framework.

Jus in Bello

Jus in bello refers to justice in warfare. It indicates how just wars should be fought, that is how conflict should be conducted. These rules seek to limit the destructiveness of war once it includes started. It is principally attended to to military regulators as they make the decisions in times of conflict.

Jus in bello (how warfare should be fought) is dissociated from Jus ad bellum (why so when wars can be fought). It has the apparent implication a just cause can be unjust in the manner it is fought and there may be a just do of conflict for an unjust cause. To illustrate this, history has traces of your country that retaliated for the invasion of an uninhabited island by destroying enemy towns with a nuclear tool. The cause was just but the battle fought in an unjust way.

Jus in bello has many guidelines some of which can be: discrimination, proportionality, follow the international laws and regulations on weapons prohibition and benevolent quarantine for prisoners of battle. We shall concentrate on the first two.


This answers the question: who's it honest to fight? It really is widely agreed that non-combatants or civilians should not be the targets of war problems. But as concerning the combatants, is it ethical to wipe out them? Some creators argue that because of the fact they have received armed service training, are armed and are voluntarily enrolled in army, they could be targets.


This principle handles the question: how much make is ethically permissible? It declares that the make used should be proportional to the desired aim. The perseverance of whether the magnitude of drive used is proportional to the required aim is left to the belligerent.

Jus post Bellum

Jus post bellum seeks to aid the change from a period of war to a period of serenity. The advocates of jus post bellum have set as rules that: the calmness contract should be reasonable to both gatherings and publicly announced, punishment should be proportionate to the destructiveness ant not be imposed on non-combatants or civilians and financial restitution in the case of a compensatory promise must maintain collection with the proportionality and discrimination rules explained above.


Broadly speaking, pacifism is a institution of thinking where the key contention is the fact peace rather than violence can and should govern international relationships. Some authors have identified three main reasons why people stand behind pacifism: religious motives, non-religious motives of sacredness of life and the pragmatic notion that conflict is ever detrimental and wasteful.

Depending on the criterion used, we can break up pacifism into various categories. Using doctrines as a criterion, we will have definite pacifism and much more flexible doctrines of pacifism. Whereas considering justifications of the doctrine, we will have deontological pacifism and teleological pacifism. The deontological position says that as moral providers, we have the duty never to resort to assault and states never to resort to war. Meanwhile, the teleological position (also known as intrinsic or consequentialist) advocates that no good can ever be derived from violence or warfare. If any good comes from, the evil made by war will prevail over it.

Absolute Pacifism

Absolute pacifism encourages the idea that war is never right; no reason can be used to justify a resort to war, not even self-defence.

Deontological Absolute Pacifism

This doctrine states that it is a work for a country or a state to never aggress another, use push, to aid a nation that is waging or even to wage a war against another region or state. The primary advocates of the doctrine are religious pacifist. They believe that war shouldn't be resorted even though the lives of innocent citizens are in stake. This may be explained by the actual fact that in addition they believe in a much better life in the realms beyond and therefore they value less this life.

Teleological Absolute Pacifism

This doctrine advocates that if worthwhile comes from the utilization of assault and war, it'll be outweigh by the evil brought on by the warfare. Therefore war shouldn't be resorted to. Similar to the deontological view, they promote the full total prohibition of battle. Conversely, their justification isn't that this is a duty not to resort to warfare, instead it is because of the consequences of conflict that are always negative. It is difficult to build quarrels upon this theory as the good derived will depend on one's conception.

Conditional Pacifism

Conditional Pacifists are against the total prohibition of wars, rather, they promote the idea that battle could be allowed under certain circumstances.

Deontological Conditional Pacifism

For deontological conditional pacifists, the duty not to income war is not the only real responsibility of moral beings. The work to protect innocent lives may prevail over that of not resorting to battle.

Consequentialist Conditional Pacifism

They advocate that morals rules be based upon circumstances. The precise outcome of each act, battle, war. . . should be analyzed and the expected come back assessed. Specific conditions such as self-defence or wars to safeguard innocent lives are satisfactory. It is worthy of noting that the more we allow for special circumstances in pacifism, the closer we get to just battle theory.

Other types of Pacifism

Other kinds of pacifism include:

Defencism: This theory accepts all forms of defence wars as just

Pacificism: Pacificists prefer peaceful conditions to battle but permit some wars if indeed they contribute to the reason for peace.


To the question on whether conflict is right, a wide-range of theories attempt to bring a remedy, each theory or sub-theory presenting its strengths and its weaknesses. You can find enough theories to fit anyone's taste. To stick to one middle-range theory (Just warfare theory and flexible pacifism) is tricky as the boundary between them is so small. More difficult nowadays is to adhere to absolute pacifism as absolute pacifists have emerged as utopians or idealists. This can be explained by the fact it becomes harder to visualise a global without battle. Can war ever be completely eradicated?

More than 7 000 students trust us to do their work
90% of customers place more than 5 orders with us
Special price $5 /page
Check the price
for your assignment