Just War?

  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » Ethics
  3. » Just War?

Get Email Updates Email this Topic Print this Page

Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 01:18 pm
  • Is there such a thing as a just war, both in theory and in actuality?
  • What conditions would be sufficient to make war morally justified?
  • Is absolute pacifism a logically coherent notion?

These are just a few of the questions that surround the issue of Just War. I have recently been doing a significant amount of reading surrounding the issue and am intrigued what others think. Personally I believe that War can be just, when certain conditions are fulfilled. But I am unsure whether I would want to adopt a consequentialist or non-conquestialist approach.
 
Sorryel
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 01:47 pm
@RDanneskjld,
R.Danneskjöld;96940 wrote:

  • Is there such a thing as a just war, both in theory and in actuality?
  • What conditions would be sufficient to make war morally justified?
  • Is absolute pacifism a logically coherent notion?
These are just a few of the questions that surround the issue of Just War. I have recently been doing a significant amount of reading surrounding the issue and am intrigued what others think. Personally I believe that War can be just, when certain conditions are fulfilled. But I am unsure whether I would want to adopt a consequentialist or non-conquestialist approach.


I'm not sure if this constitutes much of a contribution, but legally, commanders and other officers are supposed to conduct wars in a just (ie not gratuitiously destructive) fashion. The legal assumption is that there is a legal way to conduct wars and a lot of less legal ways to conduct wars.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 02:11 pm
@Sorryel,
Sorryel;96949 wrote:
I'm not sure if this constitutes much of a contribution, but legally, commanders and other officers are supposed to conduct wars in a just (ie not gratuitiously destructive) fashion. The legal assumption is that there is a legal way to conduct wars and a lot of less legal ways to conduct wars.


There are two meanings of "just war"

1. It is just to wage this war.
2. The war is being waged justly.

 
richrf
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 04:28 pm
@RDanneskjld,
Apparently every war is just(ified). Just different points of view on who started it and why it was started. You name the war, and I will tell you why each side thought it was just:

Examples:

1) Crusades
2) 100 years war
3) American revolution (there was a whole Declaration of Independence rationale for this one)
4) French revolution (viva la guillotine)
5) Civil War
6) World War I and II
7) Korean, Vietnam Wars
8) Arab-Israeli conflicts
9) Iraq War

To name a few. We can play, give me a war and I'll tell you why it was just (from the viewpoints of the combatants).

As for the abstract notion of a just war, I think it is pretty irrelevant since there are wars all the time and there appears to be no end to it in sight.

Rich
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 04:48 pm
@richrf,
richrf;96986 wrote:
Apparently every war is just(ified). Just different points of view on who started it and why it was started. You name the war, and I will tell you why each side thought it was just:

Examples:

1) Crusades
2) 100 years war
3) American revolution (there was a whole Declaration of Independence rationale for this one)
4) French revolution (viva la guillotine)
5) Civil War
6) World War I and II
7) Korean, Vietnam Wars
8) Arab-Israeli conflicts
9) Iraq War

To name a few. We can play, give me a war and I'll tell you why it was just (from the viewpoints of the combatants).

As for the abstract notion of a just war, I think it is pretty irrelevant since there are wars all the time and there appears to be no end to it in sight.

Rich


In 1914, Germany invaded Belgium. Belgium did not invade Germany
In 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Poland did not invade Germany.
In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea. South Korea did not invade North Korea.

That one side or the other claims it was right is no reason to think that it was right. Why you think that if a rapist claims he is right to rape the victim, that means he was right to rape the victim, I have no idea. Don't you distinguish between someone claiming he is right, and his being right? Suppose that someone hits you over the head, and takes your money. And claims he was right to to that. Does that mean that he was right to do that?
 
richrf
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 05:16 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;96992 wrote:
In 1914, Germany invaded Belgium. Belgium did not invade Germany
In 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Poland did not invade Germany.
In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea. South Korea did not invade North Korea.

That one side or the other claims it was right is no reason to think that it was right. Why you think that if a rapist claims he is right to rape the victim, that means he was right to rape the victim, I have no idea. Don't you distinguish between someone claiming he is right, and his being right? Suppose that someone hits you over the head, and takes your money. And claims he was right to to that. Does that mean that he was right to do that?


They all justified their combatant position with near unity from their own populace (in some cases the opposition was simply put to death, which is one way to get unanimity). It is easy to justify a war. Bush did with about 80% approval at the beginning. Of course, the justification gradually withered away as the cost went up. The Crusades was one snappy little war from the Christian point of view. Of course, the Muslim nations felt a bit invaded. It is interesting how people justify wars.

Rich
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 05:25 pm
@richrf,
richrf;97001 wrote:
They all justified their combatant position with near unity from their own populace (in some cases the opposition was simply put to death, which is one way to get unanimity). It is easy to justify a war. Bush did with about 80% approval at the beginning. Of course, the justification gradually withered away as the cost went up. The Crusades was one snappy little war from the Christian point of view. Of course, the Muslim nations felt a bit invaded. It is interesting how people justify wars.

Rich


Sure. But that they attempt to justify what they do does not mean that they succeeded in doing so. The fellow who who hits you on the head and steals your money may try to justify his action when he gets caught. What is your point? To attempt to justify is not the same as succeeding in doing so. Almost everyone in prison tries to justify or excuse what he did that landed him there.
 
richrf
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 05:38 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;97003 wrote:
Sure. But that they attempt to justify what they do does not mean that they succeeded in doing so. The fellow who who hits you on the head and steals your money may try to justify his action when he gets caught. What is your point? To attempt to justify is not the same as succeeding in doing so. Almost everyone in prison tries to justify or excuse what he did that landed him there.


When tens of millions of people in one or more countries agree that a war is just, that is a pretty good job of justifying - and that is all that is needed to wage war. Justification is easy when there is a willing or frightened populace. There are wars going on all the time. Even the butchering of people in Rwanda was justified to the majority of the population in Rwanda.

Rich
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 05:52 pm
@richrf,
richrf;97006 wrote:
When tens of millions of people in one or more countries agree that a war is just, that is a pretty good job of justifying - and that is all that is needed to wage war. Justification is easy when there is a willing or frightened populace. There are wars going on all the time. Even the butchering of people in Rwanda was justified to the majority of the population in Rwanda.

Rich


"Justified to" means, "they believed it was justified". It does not mean that it was justified. I keep reminding you of that, and you keep on forgetting.
 
richrf
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 06:04 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;97012 wrote:
"Justified to" means, "they believed it was justified". It does not mean that is was justified. I keep reminding you of that, and you keep on forgetting.


Well, just use your college learned logic on the combatants on the battlefield and let me know what happens. OK? You practice, what I would call, impractical and unusable philosophy. This is one of the reasons the whole field of philosophy has to be revamped in order to make it relevant to people. In the meantime, you can pretend that a war that is justified by people is not justified. Whatever.

Rich
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 06:12 pm
@richrf,
They are all just wars, WW2 was just a war, Vietnam was just a war, The Revolution was just a war.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 06:13 pm
@richrf,
richrf;97016 wrote:
Well, just use your college learned logic on the combatants on the battlefield and let me know what happens. OK? You practice, what I would call, impractical and unusable philosophy. This is one of the reasons the whole field of philosophy has to be revamped in order to make it relevant to people. In the meantime, you can pretend that a war that is justified by people is not justified. Whatever.

Rich


I did not say that a war which people think is justified is not. It may be. All I said was that because they think it is justified it does not follow that it is.
Philosophy has to be revamped because it uses logic? And that makes it irrelevant? You remind be a bit of Joseph Goebbels: "When I hear the word 'culture' I take out my gun!". Apparently, when you hear the word, "reason" or "logic" you take out your gun.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 06:28 pm
@RDanneskjld,
R.Danneskjöld;96940 wrote:

  • Is there such a thing as a just war, both in theory and in actuality?
  • What conditions would be sufficient to make war morally justified?
  • Is absolute pacifism a logically coherent notion?

These are just a few of the questions that surround the issue of Just War. I have recently been doing a significant amount of reading surrounding the issue and am intrigued what others think. Personally I believe that War can be just, when certain conditions are fulfilled. But I am unsure whether I would want to adopt a consequentialist or non-conquestialist approach.

When you say consequentialist... you're looking back on a war that's already happened, right? The problems I see there is with determining the consequences and evaluating them. How much time after the war do we evaluate.. 100 years... 500 years? And what criteria do we use for evaluating consequences... the success of a certain culture in terms of survival... the health of the human species... the health of life on earth... advancement in science or art? There's going to be a lot of guessing involved. All we can do is guess at alternative time lines.

In the past, holy people would be called upon to justify a war... like when the Romans would have a priest do a ritual and throw a sword into a field. I think the meaning of this was tied to Roman anxiety about using their power wrongly. I think this is often the basis of the question... a culture that wonders about just war is worried about making a mistake... doing evil through blindness. The call to the holy man is a request for clear sight.

Notice the difference between the Roman approach here and the Greek habit of asking the Oracle about war... they were asking whether they'd be successful... not if they'd be just. So the Roman approach shows an amazing insight: that you can be successful in war... but still be wrong. Many other cultures did not see this: they figured that if they succeeded, they must have been just.. because obviously the gods were on their side.
 
I am question
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 06:30 pm
@kennethamy,
Am I the only one here who has been to war and completely disagrees with this? There is no such thing as Just War. War is called war for a reason. Who cares about illegal but legitimate, who cares to be kind or sorry I didn't mean to shoot you. Come on people war is about eliminating the opposition. Im sorry to hurt your feelings but we need destruction to know if their dead, we cant keep things clean then it wouldn't be called war. Innocent people will be killed, friendly's will be shot, hospitals will be destroyed, and soldiers will be prisoners. Im lucky to have fought in Afghanistan, because in WWI american soldiers were lined up in groups of fives and one in each group would live. This theory was created by religion and I don't even want to get started on that invented subject of security for weak minds.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 06:35 pm
@I am question,
I am question;97025 wrote:
Am I the only one here who has been to war and completely disagrees with this? There is no such thing as Just War. War is called war for a reason. Who cares about illegal but legitimate, who cares to be kind or sorry I didn't mean to shoot you. Come on people war is about eliminating the opposition. Im sorry to hurt your feelings but we need destruction to know if their dead, we cant keep things clean then it wouldn't be called war. Innocent people will be killed, friendly's will be shot, hospitals will be destroyed, and soldiers will be prisoners. Im lucky to have fought in Afghanistan, because in WWI american soldiers were lined up in groups of fives and one in each group would live. This theory was created by religion and I don't even want to get started on that invented subject of security for weak minds.


Suppose the country is attacked. As we were at Pearl Harbor? What do you think it should do? (What is this story about American soldiers you mention?).
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 06:46 pm
@RDanneskjld,
R.Danneskjöld;96940 wrote:

  • Is there such a thing as a just war, both in theory and in actuality?
  • What conditions would be sufficient to make war morally justified?
  • Is absolute pacifism a logically coherent notion?

These are just a few of the questions that surround the issue of Just War. I have recently been doing a significant amount of reading surrounding the issue and am intrigued what others think. Personally I believe that War can be just, when certain conditions are fulfilled. But I am unsure whether I would want to adopt a consequentialist or non-conquestialist approach.


Academically speaking, the topic of just war is actually very simple (and remarkably uniform). At the heart of just war theory are two fundamental points, jus ad bellum and jus ad bello. Jus ad Bellum translates as "justice of war," or more precisely, the arguments for a morally justified precession to war. Jus ad bello on the other hand encapsulates all the principles of jus ad bellum, but further contains stipulations on how a war is to be morally fought.

Before saying anything more, my translation of just war theory comes from Nicholas Fotion. Fotion maintains a very strict and uniform code as far as just war theory is concerned. That being said, it is very simplified, which is both good and bad. Good in the respect that it is easy to understand the fundamentals, bad in the respect that there is a lot to be elaborated upon. Another just war theorist I particularly like is Richard Falk, who authored "Defining a Just War" after the events of September 11th. However, Falk is more concerned with the dichotomy of symmetrical and asymmetrical warfare (terrorism). Fotion is ideal for basic definitions. Fotions just war theory is roughly as follows;

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
In the justice for war (hereafter called jus ad bellum), there a six (6) primary criteria for a morally justified reason for war (leading up to but not including the act itself).

1.Conditions that apply for just war must be positive. For example, a negative condition automatically disqualifies a nation from engaging in a just war. However, positive conditions to not automatically validate a just war, merely lend to the preconditions that follow jus ad bellum.

2.Jus ad bellum requires good intentions. Of course, this is entirely relative, but this is supposed to subset to a morally correct rubric in line with the international community (basically, the biggest power that be, whether that be NATO, the US, China, whoever.) Hilariously, that seems to imply a "might makes right" basis. LOL!

3.Proportionality must be observed. Simply, there is a cost benefit analysis as far as the costs of war to gain in relation to the potential sacrifice. I think Fotion here makes the point broad, implying both moral proportionality and resource proportionality

4.There must be a likelihood of success. Simply, you have to be sure that the campaign you start is finished so as not to devolve the present situation before it is molested by an outside power. I think of the first Iraq war in this case, where Hussein was left in power due to the threat of a power vacuum and various factions vying for control. Ironically, the second Gulf war seems to be rectifying the first Gulf war's broken jus ad bellum principles.

5.War must be the last resort. Pretty simple, there must be no other recourse left before war is incurred.

6.The sixth and perhaps most tricky point of jus ad bellum is legitimate authority. Honestly, I think point 2 does a good job implying this principle, but expressly implying is different than implicitly implying, so the point needs to be raised.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Should all the previous criteria for jus ad bellum be reached, jus ad bello can be enacted. Interestingly enough, there are not as many criteria for a justice during the war as preceding the war itself. There are two primary principles;

1.Proportionality. Fotion makes it clear that there should be a measure on par with the cost benefit analysis of the proportionality enacted in jus ad bellum. There are numerous implications in this principle which are the stuff of many books. For instance, do we use nuclear devices to end the war quickly and save more lives in the process while sacrificing a good many more in the process? That kind of thing.

2.Discrimination. Do you attack someone in uniform or not? Do you attack medics and the red cross or not? Do you leave civilians out of the fighting or include them in the enemy faction? Etc.

Although these two principles do not look like a whole lot, they substantially encapsulate most everything that can be asked in a jus ad scenario.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

As for my own personal opinions on the issues, I have to agree with a good deal of what Fotion has to think about in terms of jus ad bellum. There must be an unequivocal meeting of terms for jus ad bellum before any military action can take place. But when war takes place, I tend to figure more along the lines of Carl Clausewitz (very old war philosopher). War should be a last resort in all instances, but when war is declared, it becomes everything short of attrition. That's what war essentially is. So actually, I would also adopt Fotion's notions of proportionality and discrimination mainly because those constraints are few and far between (but very broad in scope of definition should they be needed).
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 07:19 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
Those principles don't seem to address moral issues to me. But then, if you think of war as basically the same as a couple of gorillas determining dominance, morality is meaningless.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 07:27 pm
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;97042 wrote:
Those principles don't seem to address moral issues to me. But then, if you think of war as basically the same as a couple of gorillas determining dominance, morality is meaningless.


When would you say that morality is meaningful? You don't think that, for example, the question of whether unarmed civilians should be intentionally targeted is a meaningful moral question? Whether or not you care about it, I mean.
 
richrf
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 07:29 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon;97034 wrote:
Academically speaking, the topic of just war is actually very simple (and remarkably uniform).


All very well and good, but people go to war in order to loot their opponent and they feel they have a big enough army to do it. They justify it for any old reason. Usually, something noble, like bringing civilization to the other country. Sometimes, not so noble. Of course, the opponent justifies it as self-defense. And that is the way it is. A much simpler version than the academic version.

Rich

---------- Post added 10-12-2009 at 08:32 PM ----------

Arjuna;97042 wrote:
Those principles don't seem to address moral issues to me. But then, if you think of war as basically the same as a couple of gorillas determining dominance, morality is meaningless.


Precisely. You give me the war, and I'll show you the bananas that the gorillas are fighting over.

Rich
 
I am question
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 07:37 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;97027 wrote:
Suppose the country is attacked. As we were at Pearl Harbor? What do you think it should do? (What is this story about American soldiers you mention?).


It wasn't a story its a statistic. I'll put into percentage: 55% of american soldiers were either killed or wounded in WW1, I believe thats how PTSD was developed in soldiers. But if we were attacked(as at pearl harbor) it would depend on the enemies strategy on how they attacked, but no doubt they would get a response from a giant waking up after being poked repeatedly. Its sad to say we are imperialistic but, our military has no competition with the exception of a nuclear war. You need to understand our high speed special fast teams: SEALs, Delta Force, Special Forces, Rangers, Airborne, Air Assault, I could go on. we have the largest defense budget in the world and consume half of the worlds military expenditures.
 
 

 
  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » Ethics
  3. » Just War?
Copyright © 2024 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.02 seconds on 03/02/2024 at 06:16:16