A Discussion of When War Can Be Justified

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About this sample


Words: 1413 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Mar 28, 2019

Words: 1413|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Mar 28, 2019

Table of contents

  1. Introduction: is war ever justified?
  2. Just war
  3. Reasons of War: justifiable and non-justifiable
  4. Conclusion
  5. Works Cited

Introduction: is war ever justified?

War is an inevitable death to the mankind. Unlike usual events, war is an action of people imposed on other people. Occasionally this bitter and brutal war; came through the ethnic tensions between the majority and minority, which are making gigantic difficulties till today. War is by usually carries feel of criminal, but can it ever be less criminal? There are various different possibilities when discussing the issue of a ‘justifiable war’. Nations across the World comes up with many solutions, influences and assumption. Actually, War is inevitable; can it ever judge as morally justified? Besides war has made unusual impacts to the society in different ways; It has positive efforts to create peace and freedom; but also packed with many difficulties and effects to the many ethnic groups and cultural beliefs. Pacific part of the world debates to not to justify war, while others argues to support it. All these facts prove one decent habit, inherits to the mankind. ‘War is a tradition’. The most unjustifiable value of war is the loss of innocent citizens’ lives. Civilians, who could have lived to make a huge effect on the planet, may be there’s no direct danger to the ‘enemy’ and might not even share the intentions of the side they have been admitted to support. War eliminates hopes and dreams of millions, extinguishes of homelands, terrifies and dominates the population. None of this, in the end, brings more corruption than it doing moral effect to the society.

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Just war

If someone influences soldiers to obey orders and execute cruelly in wars, particular party annihilates their natural reflexes of kindness and their capability of thinking and act freely by producing humble works for leaders. Nobody has the right to execute a living individual. War can terminate the will to live; in those whose survives have been affected by it, and pretend to kill the others those forced to kill purposely. Nobody can justify and declare the rights to governor others’ feelings and desires.

It was Aristotle who first introduced the concept of just war, simply and an action which was a last resort and served as the greater good in order to restore peace in a region. But as was typical of that time Aristotle generally had a favourable opinion of war and warfare to “avoid becoming enslaved by others” is justified as self-defence. Today we mostly don’t need to worry too much about that. Nevertheless this concept served to influence the writings of Roman philosopher Cicero, who in his De Officiis wrote extensively on the subject of the right to go to war. In it he states that determining whether or not it was ‘right’ to go to war was decided by the priests. Naturally, this ritual was later adopted by the Christians and for the next few hundred years the rational “because God said” served as a good blanket reason for why war was worth fighting.

It wasn’t until Saint Thomas Aquinas, well known just war theorist, laid out the conditions under which war could be justified, by combining theological principles of faith with philosophical principles of reason. (Rickaby, 1892) It was these conditions which laid the framework for the principles of jus ad bellum, Latin for ‘right to war’.

Ultimately that brings us to today, and what just war means in recent history.

Reasons of War: justifiable and non-justifiable

War is usually an enormous economic hole into which a country’s resources and labour are poured. It often keeps civilians working hard without giving them any direct rewards. Many countries over-spend on labour and resources to meet ongoing war needs, depriving their population of other necessities. This economic deprivation can take years to recover from.

If the outcome of war brings more good than harm, war can be justified; even if the actual reason for war is not a morally acceptable one. Anything that, on a worldwide scale, improves the quality of life for the majority is acceptable. If the evils a war is fought against, like racism or terrorism, are universally immoral, war is also acceptable.

Going to war to protect the innocent and persecuted or to attain freedom and human rights is acceptable because no person should be denied these basic privileges. As long as a war does not injure the innocent and deny other parties these rights, then it should continue and make life worth living for the persecuted people.

Wars that are fought to stop the advance of a morally corrupt power are justifiable, because they are destroying an evil that would cause suffering to a greater number in the long run.

War in self-defence cannot be argued against, as otherwise, you are vulnerable. Finally, going to war as an ally is justifiable because of the fundamental decency to aid and be loyal to those who would return the support. But this is only when that neighbour’s reasons for going to war are acceptable and if their aim is a moral one. However, it is controversial as to whether countries at which a war is not directed at should join that war: they often worsen the situation by interfering.

Debating whether or not to go to war in defence of a neighbour presents a ‘right vs. right dilemma.’ There are two conflicting sets of morals: either loyalty (to the neighbour) vs. justice (if their reasons for going to war are unjust) or loyalty vs. non-violence. To decide whether war can be justified, not only in the case above, but in general, we can be guided by ethical theories.

Utilitarianism is a principle stating that ‘to do the greatest good for the greatest number’ is the best action. When applied to the problem ‘can war be justified,’ you must look ahead to see what the consequences of a war will be – if the war will have a greater overall benefit, thinking of future generations. This rule will give a different answer to each case: If a war’s outcome will cause more suffering than good, Utilitarianism would say that that war could not be justified; yet if a war, in the long run would bring greater good than harm, Utilitarian thinkers will say that that war can be justified.

The ‘Rules-based’ principle advises people to think ‘if everyone in the world followed the same rule of action I am about to follow, would the world be a nice place to live in?’ Applied to this problem, you would think whether the world would be a nice place if everybody was at war or if nobody was at war. Obviously, living in a place where everyone is at war would be terrible, so a rules-based thinker would say that war cannot be justified.

‘Cares-based’ thinking says the most loving and caring action is the best one. As no violence is caring or loving, cares-based thinkers would say that war cannot be justified in any circumstances. This principle also includes ‘the rule of reversibility,’ telling people to imagine how they would feel if the action they want to take was reversed, and done to them instead. As nobody wants war waged against them, this again concludes that going to war is unjust.


It is hard to justify sending men to their deaths, but I personally believe that, in balance, most wars can be justified. Inevitably it causes suffering and ruins life for many, but I agree with the principles of Utilitarianism. I believe that if a war improves the way of life for more than those it causes suffering to, it has to be justified. It is far better, in my opinion, to have many generations of happy citizens living in a free society, than generations of persecuted people, enduring a miserable existence – even if a relatively small number of soldiers – and sadly, often civilians too – have to die to achieve this state of peace and freedom.

For wars to be justified, I believe there must be a degree of morality in the way a war is fought. This entails treating the enemy with respect after the battle, treating prisoners of war humanely, and at all costs, not targeting innocent civilians.

I do believe that there are some wars that cannot be justified at all. Wars that persecute innocent people are despicable and unnecessary.

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There is no definitive universal answer as to whether or not war can be justified – each case has individual circumstances. In the majority of cases, however, I conclude that war can be justified.

Works Cited

  1. Rickaby, J. (1892). The Ethics of War. Longmans, Green, and Co.
  2. Walzer, M. (2006). Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations. Basic Books.
  3. Orend, B. (2005). War and International Justice: A Kantian Perspective. Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
  4. McMahan, J. (2009). Killing in War. Oxford University Press.
  5. Rodin, D. (2002). War and Self-Defense. Oxford University Press.
  6. Walzer, M. (2015). On Just and Unjust Wars: Revised Edition (2nd ed.). Basic Books.
  7. Johnson, J. T., & Snider, T. L. (2014). Just War and Terrorism: The End of a Myth. IVP Academic.
  8. Fabre, C. (2008). Cosmopolitan War. Oxford University Press.
  9. McMahan, J. (2010). Killing in War: Revised Edition. Oxford University Press.
  10. Woods, N. (2011). The Ethics of War: Shared Problems in Different Traditions. Ashgate Publishing.
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When is War Justified. (2022, March 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 14, 2024, from
“When is War Justified.” GradesFixer, 24 Mar. 2022,
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