Is War Justified? an Examination of Ethical and Pragmatic Considerations

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 766 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 766|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraph 1: Ethical Considerations
  3. Body Paragraph 2: Legal and Political Dimensions
  4. Body Paragraph 3: Pragmatic Considerations
  5. Conclusion


War has been a persistent element in human history, shaping civilizations and altering the course of nations. The question of whether war is justified is a complex and multifaceted issue that has been debated by scholars, policymakers, and ethicists for centuries. Justifications for war often hinge on ethical, legal, and pragmatic considerations, including self-defense, humanitarian intervention, and the pursuit of political objectives. This essay will explore the various dimensions of this debate, examining both the arguments in favor of and against the justification of war. By analyzing ethical theories, historical precedents, and contemporary examples, this essay aims to provide a nuanced perspective on the conditions under which war might be considered justified.

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Body Paragraph 1: Ethical Considerations

The ethical justification of war often revolves around theories such as Just War Theory, which sets out criteria for when it is morally permissible to engage in armed conflict. According to Just War Theory, war can be justified if it meets certain conditions such as having a just cause, being declared by a legitimate authority, possessing the right intention, and being a last resort. For instance, self-defense is widely accepted as a just cause for war. When a nation is under attack, it has the moral right to defend its sovereignty and protect its citizens. Additionally, humanitarian interventions, where military force is used to prevent atrocities such as genocide or ethnic cleansing, can also be considered morally justified. However, these ethical considerations are not without their criticisms. Critics argue that the concept of a "just cause" is often subject to interpretation and can be manipulated to serve the interests of powerful nations. Moreover, the principle of last resort is frequently contested, as diplomatic and non-military solutions are not always exhaustively pursued.

Body Paragraph 2: Legal and Political Dimensions

From a legal standpoint, the justification of war is governed by international law, particularly the United Nations Charter, which permits the use of force in self-defense or when authorized by the UN Security Council. The principle of self-defense is enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter, allowing nations to defend themselves against an armed attack. Additionally, the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine has emerged as a significant principle in international relations, advocating for intervention when a state fails to protect its population from mass atrocities. However, the legal framework for justifying war is often complicated by political considerations. The UN Security Council's decisions can be influenced by the geopolitical interests of its permanent members, leading to inconsistencies in the application of international law. For example, the NATO intervention in Kosovo in 1999 was conducted without explicit UN authorization, raising questions about its legality despite its humanitarian aims. The interplay between legal norms and political realities underscores the complexity of justifying war on legal grounds.

Body Paragraph 3: Pragmatic Considerations

Pragmatic considerations also play a crucial role in the justification of war. Leaders must weigh the potential benefits of military action against the likely costs and consequences. War can lead to significant loss of life, economic disruption, and long-term instability, making it a high-stakes decision. For instance, the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 was justified on the grounds of eliminating weapons of mass destruction and promoting democracy. However, the aftermath of the invasion revealed the challenges of nation-building and the unintended consequences of military intervention, including prolonged conflict and regional instability. Pragmatic justifications for war often emphasize the necessity of achieving specific strategic objectives, but these objectives must be critically assessed to ensure that the anticipated benefits outweigh the costs. Moreover, the effectiveness of war as a means of achieving political or humanitarian goals is frequently debated, with many arguing that non-military approaches can be more sustainable and less destructive.

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In conclusion, the justification of war is a deeply contested issue that encompasses ethical, legal, and pragmatic dimensions. Ethical theories such as Just War Theory provide a framework for assessing the morality of war, while international law offers legal criteria for its legitimacy. Political considerations and pragmatic assessments further complicate the debate, highlighting the multifaceted nature of justifying armed conflict. While there are scenarios where war may be deemed justified, such as in cases of self-defense or humanitarian intervention, it is essential to critically evaluate each situation on its merits. The potential consequences of war, including loss of life and long-term instability, necessitate a cautious and measured approach. Ultimately, the justification of war should be guided by a commitment to ethical principles, adherence to international law, and a thorough consideration of the pragmatic implications. By doing so, we can strive to ensure that the decision to go to war is made with the utmost responsibility and care.

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Is War Justified? An Examination of Ethical and Pragmatic Considerations. (2024, Jun 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 22, 2024, from
“Is War Justified? An Examination of Ethical and Pragmatic Considerations.” GradesFixer, 12 Jun. 2024,
Is War Justified? An Examination of Ethical and Pragmatic Considerations. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Jul. 2024].
Is War Justified? An Examination of Ethical and Pragmatic Considerations [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 12 [cited 2024 Jul 22]. Available from:
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