Ethics of war

Traditionalists and Revisionists Contemporary just war theory is dominated by two camps: Their views on the morality of war are substantially led by international law, especially the law of armed conflict. They aim to provide those laws with morally defensible foundations. Civilians may not be targeted in war, but all combatants, whatever they are fighting for, are morally permitted to target one another, even when doing so foreseeably harms some civilians so long as it does not do so excessively.

Ethics of war

Pre-Christian[ edit ] The Indian Hindu epic, the Mahabharataoffers one of the first written discussions of a "just war" dharma-yuddha or "righteous war".

In it, one of five ruling brothers asks if the suffering caused by war can ever be justified, and then a long discussion ensues between the siblings, establishing criteria like proportionality chariots cannot attack cavalry, only other chariots; no attacking people in distressjust means no poisoned or barbed arrowsjust cause no attacking out of rageand fair treatment of captives and the wounded.

At the beginning of the war, there is the discussion of "just conduct" appropriate to the context of war. A study found that the just war tradition can be traced as far back as to Ancient Egypt, "demonstrating that just war thought developed beyond the boundaries of Europe and existed many centuries earlier than the advent of Christianity or even the emergence of Greco-Roman doctrine.

Although, it is well known that Julius Caesar did not often follow these necessities. Saint Augustine[ edit ] Augustine of Hippo claimed that, while individuals should not resort immediately to violence, God has given the sword to government for good reason based upon Romans In Contra Faustum Manichaeum book 22 sections 69—76, Augustine argues that Christians, as part of a government, need not be ashamed of protecting peace and punishing wickedness when forced to do so by a government.

Augustine asserted that this was a personal, philosophical stance: The sacred seat of virtue is the heart. Defense of one's self or others could be a necessity, especially when authorized by a legitimate authority: They who have waged war in obedience to the divine command, or in conformity with His laws, have represented in their persons the public justice or the wisdom of government, and in this capacity have put to death wicked men; such persons have by no means violated the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill.

But, say they, the wise man will wage Just Wars. As if he would not all the rather lament the necessity of just wars, if he remembers that he is a man; for if they were not just he would not wage them, and would therefore be delivered from all wars.

BBC - Ethics - War: Ethics of war - introduction

Mark Mattox writes that, for the individual Christian under the rule of a government engaged in an immoral war, Augustine admonished that Christians, "by divine edict, have no choice but to subject themselves to their political masters and [should] seek to ensure that they execute their war-fighting duty as justly as possible.

Proper Authority is first: Second, war must occur for a good and just purpose rather than for self-gain for example, "in the nation's interest" is not just or as an exercise of power just cause: Third, peace must be a central motive even in the midst of violence.

Soldiers must also fight for this intention. Both are fountains of knowledge; both come from God.

How Should We Think about the Morality of War?

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Ethics of war

February Learn how and when to remove this template message The School of Salamanca expanded on Thomistic understanding of natural law and just war. It stated that war is one of the worst evils suffered by mankind.

The School's adherents reasoned that war should be a last resort, and only then, when necessary to prevent an even greater evil.

Diplomatic resolution is always preferable, even for the more powerful party, before a war is started. Examples of "just war" are: In self-defense, as long as there is a reasonable possibility of success.

Preventive war against a tyrant who is about to attack. War to punish a guilty enemy. A war is not legitimate or illegitimate simply based on its original motivation: It is necessary that the response be commensurate with the evil; use of more violence than is strictly necessary would constitute an unjust war.

Governing authorities declare war, but their decision is not sufficient cause to begin a war. If the people oppose a war, then it is illegitimate.Just War theory considers the reasons for going to war (Jus ad bellum) and the conduct of war (Jus in bello). This distinction is important. A war might be ethical but the means unethical, for instance, using landmines, torture, chemicals and current debate is concerned with drones.

The Ethics of War War is an inescapable part of the human condition, with the course of history and the character of civilizations often shaped by the legacy of past battles and the possibility of future conflicts. The Ethics of War is an indispensable collection of essaysaddressing issues both timely and age-old about the nature andethics of war.

Features essays by great thinkers from ancient times through tothe present day, among them Plato, Augustine, Aquinas, Machiavelli,Grotius, Kant, Russell, and Walzer Ethics of War: Classic and Contemporary 5/5(4).

Sep 07,  · Ethics guide Ethics of War Human beings have been fighting each other since prehistoric times, and people have been discussing the rights and wrongs of it for almost as long.

Just War Theory. The topic concerning moral restrictions on warfare that go back to some of the earliest recorded works on war. Is anything and thus everything permissible in war? Great empires have carried out savage massacres with no regard to noncombatants or prisoners or whether or not warfare is justified on the grounds of self-defense or divine sanction.

Sep 07,  · Ethics of War Human beings have been fighting each other since prehistoric times, and people have been discussing the rights and wrongs of it for almost as long. This section of the BBC .

War (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)