Background: In the Western cultural tradition, discussions of justifiable reasons for going to war and proper conduct during war go back to the Greek and Roman philosophers Aristotle and Cicero. They are also discussed in the Hebrew Bible and in the Koran. What is now call “Just War Theory” was developed by early Christian philosophers/theologians as they attempted to reconcile two conflicting propositions:
_ purposeful taking of human life is wrong
_ states have a duty to defend their citizens and promote justice.
The theory attempts to lay out the conditions under which states can justifiably go to war. While primarily Christian in origin, the basic principals of Just War theory provide useful touchstones for people of any faith or none.
As philosopher Mark Rigstad points out, “Just war theory is not a settled doctrine. It is a field of critical ethical reflection. That’s why there are as many just war theories as there are just war theorists.” There are also many who reject the whole concept of “just war,” arguing either from a pacifist point of view that killing is always wrong, or from a realpolitk position that force is just another strategy for pursuing national interests.
Is there a justification for acts of war? Many people who strongly believe that killing is wrong have struggled with the question of whether war can ever be right. .Let’s find out what you think.