Good Example Of Argumentative Essay On Just War/Military Ethics

Type of paper: Argumentative Essay

Topic: War, Theory, People, Principles, Morality, Just War Theory, Reason, Middle East

Pages: 7

Words: 1925

Published: 2020/12/28

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What are some circumstances that would make a war just or unjust?

The topic just and unjust war is a very complex word in the field of philosophy. This fact is the main reason why many people have researched it in order to find answers. The research began during the ancient times. There are many important moral questions that will arise when talking about the justification of war in the society. Many people in the world believe that war is unjustified and immoral. There are those who however, do not believe in this mentality. They say that there are some circumstances where war is justified. These conflicting opinions are the reason why many philosophers have tried to find answers by weighing all views. Two of the ethical theories to be used are the just war theory and utilitarian theory.
These two theories discuss well the circumstances where war is just or unjust. People in the world tend to be judgmental on many things that are happening in the world especially if it involves harming innocent people. The principles of the theory help in guiding the government and military officers especially during times of war (Walzer, 1977). Most of the principles indicate that the greater good has to be achieved if any war has to be taken place. The just and unjust war in the society is based on the fact that there is need for something good to come out of it. The circumstances that would make war unjust or just depends on the theories of utilitarian and just war theory.

Utilitarian theory

The utilitarian theory is claimed to be normative ethical theory. The reason for this is that it does not look at what is morally right or wrong instead, it looks at the outcome or the consequences. This theory does not look at individuals own interests instead it looks at other peoples interests. Bentham is among the people who have described utilitarian theory (Walzer, 1977). Some of his principles were that it recognizes pain and pleasure that human beings have in the society. Other principle is that it may approve some certain action based on whether it will cause pain or pleasure to people. Bentham had the assumption that good things bring about pleasure while evil things brings about pain. When using this theory it can be able to educate people on whether a war is justified or not. Based on the theory it is clear that war brings about a lot of consequences among the people who are involved. War brings about death, pain and misery (Singer, 2003).
The utilitarian approach states that the greatest good deed should be for the greatest number of people. This kind of approach can be used in the topic of just war. The theory has the assumption that the means should be justified by the end. The meaning for these words is that the war needs to have a just cause not that it was done for specific right reason. The mains purpose for the war was to produce a good deed in order to benefit many people in the society. There is need for the war to bring about less evil in the society. According to utilitarian, wars that have been fought for the sole purpose of good intentions without benefiting greatest number then the war would be unjust (Walzer, 1977). The reason for this is that when the people start the war they are generally doing it for the right intentions however as the war is proceeding they will not know exactly what brought them to the war. This will therefore, make them fight for a war without a just cause. This war will be morally wrong in that the world would seem to be unstable and unsafe for people.
John Stuart Mill is one of the philosophers of utilitarian theory. His principles are that quality of peoples happiness is more than the quantity of the pleasure they get. The principle means that the quality of happiness of many cannot be quantified. The utilitarian theory can be used to justify both the just and unjust wars. There are certain situations where war is justified in order to help many people in a society. There are also times when the war is unjust in that it ends up harming many people in the war. An example that can be seen is the Iraq war. The Iraq war was initially started after 9/11.

Just war theory

The just war theory was originally started by the early Greek philosophers such as Cicero and Plato. The theory was used by many in the ancient times to justify some of the wars they were partaking. The roots of the theory are stated to be from the common humanity. The reason for stating this is that even when people are fighting in wars there should be laws that guides the. According to the Socrates in the republic, he believed that the people in Greek should be able to reduce their anger in order to have a peaceful future. In looking at the works of Aristotle, it is quite clear that he was seeking for the wars to be taken under just cause. In the ancient times when Christianity took over, the people who were in the army had mixed feelings because the bible does not encourage any war. It instead encourages people to turn the other cheek in times of conflict.
According to Cicero, he believed that force was supposed to be used enforce the Catholic Orthodox (De Paulo, 2011). Cicero’s arguments about war is what has caused many Christians to justify the wars they engage in with the just for war theory. The theory has two main principles of war, which are jus in bello and jus ad bellium (Evans, 2005). Jus in bello is also known as the when one should be able to go to war. This principle was based upon many questions that philosophers have had for years with regards to war.
The principle states that during the war the army are supposed to concentrate on the enemy especially during the combatants. Those who are not involved in the war are supposed to be left alone and not included in the war. Some of this doctrine is that civilian residential areas near any warzone should not be touched meaning that they are not supposed to be attacked or bombed (Evans, 2005). These are the reason why terrorism or attack of the neutral areas brought about outcry from people all over the world.
A very good example of such a war or attack of a neutral place was during the bombing of the Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. The other suggestion of the principle is that people who have surrendered with defeat and pose no threat are not supposed to be attacked. The only exception that the combats have the authority to attack the people who have surrendered is when they pose some sort of danger (Walzer, 1977).
The attacks that are done to the enemy by the combatants should ensure that the damages that are caused to the civilians should not be severe. This fact will help the civilians to be able to pick up from where they left before the war began. The main objective for the combatants should be to ensure that the enemy is being defeated. This fact will help the nation as whole especially when the enemy has been defeated and the people will have no fear.
Jus as bellum can also be claimed to be the right to conduct war. Jus as bellum has the belief that the PLACE WHERE THE war IS taking place should have a just cause (Mattox, 2009). The meaning for this is that the war should not be used in order to punish other people who seem to have wronged others or recapture some of the things that other people have lost. An example of just cause action was stated by the catholic conference that was held in the US in 1993. In the conference, they stated that war should only be brought on when a grave evil was done to greatest number of people. One of the key principles is that the war should be used only as a last resort. This fact means that the war should only be applied after all the other options have failed.


The best theory that supports the moral argument is the just war theory. The theory shows how war should be taken as the last resort after everything else has failed during conflicting positions. This fact means that not all problem-solving solutions have worked and therefore, war is the only solution for solving conflict. In looking at the information, the theory clearly suggests that it is morally unjust to engage in wars without using other non-violent actions (Mattox, 2009).
The theory suggests that people who are civilians and not involved in any war should be left alone and not attacked. When this does not happen people in the world will condemn the actions taken by the military or army officers of a certain nation. This will cause a certain nation to be held responsible for the unjust attacks on civilians. The worldwide condemnation could cause the ruin for the nation economically, socially and politically.
In 2014, Israel launched attacks in Palestine. Many innocent civilians especially women and children were killed. The attacks caused the damage of many houses and fear was gripped in Palestine. The people were in constant panic because they did not know where the attacks would be next. These attacks were condemned by many people in the world whether they were Muslims or Christians. This war, however, according to the Israelites, the individuals they were searching for caused greater danger to so many people. The war therefore, seemed to have a just a cause reasons to engage in the attacks (Evans, 2005). This statement is true about the theory however; the reason does not dispute the fact that many innocent people were killed in the attacks. This is morally wrong no matter what outcome was supposed to be achieved from the attacks. Instead, these attacks caused many people in Palestine to fear and have hatred towards Israel.
These will therefore, cause for any hope of reconciliation between the two countries to not happen. The principles of the theory are what are governing many countries. It educates and guides the army officers during the wartime. This guide will make them not to commit any immoral attacks on the innocent people in a society. The combatants will be able to learn when to stop fighting in war. When the enemy surrenders, it is the duty of the army officers also to stop attacking them. In looking at this theory, it seems to state that people should treat others in the same manner that they wish to be treated. By being good to others, then the people will be good to you. This will enable people to help one another in situations that they cannot be able to handle on themselves. The good relationship is what brings about dialogue when there is a conflict in the air. The dialogue will enable people to resolve their problems and therefore war will be used as a last result.


There are any theories that have been formed to justify war. The two main theories used in this research are the utilitarian theory and the just a cause theory. These two types of theory are the ones that guide many military officers in a nation. In the utilitarian theory, its main work is to concentrate on the outcome of the war. The main principles of the theory are that it does not look at the problems of the individuals it instead looks at the greater numbers. This means that when a war is to take place it should benefit a greater number of people.
The just a cause theory has many principles that have been applied by many government in order to guide the officers especially during time of war. The theory has two main theories that are very important. The principles are jus in bello and jus ad bellium (Walzer, 1977). The theory suggests that the combatants are only supposed to fight the enemy and not civilians. This means that during attacks innocent people are not supposed to be added to the fight. There are many circumstances that would make a war just or unjust in the society. Unjust war in this case is the one that many innocent people are harmed for things they did not do. The just war is the one where there is no other choice but war in order for the good of all people.


De Paulo, C. (2011). Augustinian Just War Theory and the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: Confessions, Contentions and the Lust for Power. Peter Lang.
Evans, M. (2005). Just War Theory: A Reappraisal . Edinburgh University Press.
Mattox, J. M. (2009). Saint Augustine and Just War Theory. London: Continuum.
Walzer, M. (1977). Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations. New York: Basic Books.
Singer, P. (2003). Voluntary euthanasia: A utilitarian perspective. Bioethics, 17(5/6), 526-541. Retrieved from the EBSCOhost database.

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