• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does the notion of rightful or higher authority affect the ethics of war?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Philosophy Essay 2 (Essay 3) How does the notion of rightful or higher authority affect the ethics of war? The ethics of war has been thrust into the limelight with the recent conflict in Iraq. Throughout this essay I will use this war to illustrate the ethical problems associated with war and how the notion of a rightful authority affect these problems. I will start by defining a rightful or higher authority and illustrating why they are necessary for civilisation. I will then examine what powers and responisiblities these authorities have by way of a social contract. Finally, I will examine how these authorities affect the ethics of war. What is a higher authority and why do people agree to be governed? Thomas Hobbes described a social contract required to escape "the state of nature"1. The state of nature exists in the absence of higher authority, where there is no social structure. As a result of this, there is absolute freedom but no laws to protect people. People are naturally violent towards each other and this is especially true in this state of nature where there is a scarcity of resources (land, food) and yet a rough equality of need and power. In this state of nature, people naturally do what is best and right in their own eyes without consideration of the opinions of others. This leads to a war of all against all. Hobbes said that in this condition "The life of man, would be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short"2. ...read more.

Middle

On this basis the UN could be seen as the lawful authority by which the war should have been waged in order to meet the condition of just war theory. However, the UN is mainly an advisorary council and rarely commands war itself, but rather grants member states the authority to do so under this international law (only as a self-defence measure). So, although the UN did not wage the war in Iraq, the question is did they allow it under international law. This is a controversial matter. The argument is over the language of the first resolution placed on Iraq and whether it legally entails military action on Iraq. Unfortunately, there is no answer to this but the rejection of the second resolution by the UN leads me to conclude that the war was not waged by a lawful authority as although it was conducted by governments with the power to do so, it went against international law. The second condition for a just war is a just cause. America proclaimed that the war on Iraq was to protect itself from the weapons of mass destruction being produced by them. This would seem a just cause as it is self-defence, even though it is pre-emptive. However, it is argued that America was never in danger from these alleged weapons. The final condition is rightful intention. America's intention to rid evil of an oppressive dictator and advance democracy satisfy this condition. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the notion of rightful or higher authority plays an important role in the ethics of war. A rightful is authority is usually an elected government whose power to wage war comes from the rights of its citizens for protection. That war must be waged by a rightful authority is one of the three conditions of just war theory. When analysed in relation to the recent war in Iraq there are various issues to consider when deciding whether the authority is lawful. One of the controversial problems arising from the Iraq war was the subsequent question of the authority of nations in relation to the UN. A rightful authority may also be a religious authority. This has lead to many bloody wars in the past and is the current major threat to world peace (Jihad). This usually comes down to the interpretation of the teachings. In Hinduism, the Bhagavad-Gita can be interpreted as to condone war or through the duty to protect. However, in Hindu teachings can be interpreted in such a way that violence becomes unthinkable. This is also the case with Islamic teachings. So it has been shown that war is often morally justified by means of rightful authority and self-defence. However, there is another school of thought when it comes to ethics of war, that of pacificsm. It is my opinion that we should be careful when examining the ethics of war in relation to just war theory or from religious authority because we can always misinterpret them to condone unneccessary violence. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. Canada's Defining Moments.

    The town was later known as, "A West Canadian Town," (Granatstein, P.195). On D-day, June 6, 1944, the 3rd Canadian Division landed on Juno Beach and faced the awaiting enemy. They fought bravely and suffered huge losses since the enemy was ready for them by the time they landed on the beach.

  2. In what ways did the Second World War affect the lives of ordinary people ...

    Women in the home looking after the family also found themselves in new situations as the head of the family was always the man or husband and in most cases he had been sent to war. These women now had to organise and take the responsibilities of the man; they

  1. Must a defensible theory of the morality of war must integrate moral reasoning with ...

    Allan Buchanan argues in his article "Institutionalizing the Just War" that there should be room for pre-emptive attacks. "Preventive war justifications hold that it can be permissible to make war to avert a temporally distant harm; forcible democratization justifications hold that it can be permissible to make war to achieve a temporally distant good, namely, democracy"9.

  2. The Prelude to the 1975 War and the Cairo Agreement.

    In a memorandum submitted to the Lebanese Chamber of Deputies on 7th November 1975 by the Standing Conference of the Superior-Generals of the Monastic Orders of Lebanon, they state: 'The Palestinian resistance interfere in Lebanese politics, in alliance with such groups as it believes can be of advantage to it,

  1. Why did Iraq invade Kuwait?

    The MLRS (Multi Launch Rocket System) manned by the Royal Artillery was devastatingly effective. The ground assault by the allies precipitated a general route on the Iraqi forces positioned in Kuwait. There was only one highway out of Kuwait that led from Kuwait city to the Al Jahra' pass.

  2. The Woman Warrior

    marker for her anywhere, neither in the earth nor the family hall? No one would give her a family hall name." This clearly shows how Maxine feels about her own family.

  1. -Canada's Defining Moments

    The battle of Vimy Ridge was a defining moment in Canadian history, because it was the first time Canada established its self as a true nation. The British allies had been trying to capture Vimy Ridge for three years, but were having no success.

  2. Rationality, Educated Opinion and Peace

    D. Miller, drawing from Angell's comments, argues that Angell too "feared the impact upon politicians of an unreasoning crowd mind, and doubted the capacity of politicians to resist it". Both Angell and Zimmern, then, prefer that the intellectual minority be given the ability and power to lead the rest of the populace, so as to govern rational foreign policies.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work