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Justifications of War: How do people justify war?

War is a phenomenon taking many forms, ranging from an interpersonal perspective to intrapersonal scopes, from single individual to multitudes of masses, from simple reasons to complex rationales. The most predominant, however, is religious war, military war, open and declared war, war without quarter, to the death; pitched battle, or strategic war; war of conquest; or reconquest; national and international; wars of secession, separatist wars; irregular warfare, etc. War, in whichever of these forms, will always differ from civil disobedience in that it is violent.

Sometimes, the violence may be justified under certain circumstance, such to reduce or eliminate the threat or for simple to complex safety measures. The list of proposed justifications of war might include the view of war as an instrument of national policy on the theory that might makes right, a theory as old as Plato’s Republic; the defense, legitimate or otherwise, of what is loosely known as national interest; the stance that war is morally justified in certain circumstances.

One of the most widely known moral justifications, the so-called just-war theory, has roots in both Christian and Muslim thinking. War in its very essence may be morally questionable, however, as logic implies, dispute always ends up in war. The only different thing is the form of war, whether it is physical or verbal, or one on one to mass by mass. The justifications of war still remain as overall distinct features of moral, ethical, and social conformities wherein the rationale is primarily governed by the three mentioned subjects. Scope and Limitation

The study involves mainly the conceptualities for the justifications of wars in the basis of theoretical frameworks that governs the idea of wars and disputes. The study shall incorporate various theoretical explanations in order to address the subject criteria of the problem imposed. Mainly, the study shall scrutinize the details of the review of related literature patterned to the primary components imposed in the latter of the studies. Analysis and interpretation of data present shall involve clear and accurate depiction of the study utilizing the present and gathered data of the review of literatures.

The following shall be the objectives of the study in this research paper: a. To be able to critically analyze the primary components imposed in the study, particularly the presenting justifications of human’s rationale for engaging into wars and disputes b. To be able to provide necessary data analysis and implication utilizing mainly the references, data gathered in review of literature and the analysis of latter studies proposed in order to provide primary depiction of the condition presented Purpose of the Research

The purpose of the study is to provide awareness expansion in terms of the war occurrences and its justification under the concepts of ethics, morality and sociological considerations. The knowledge about the condition facilitates realization of the actual factors that may predispose an individual’s perspective of war to either negativism or positivism. Significantly, the research provides distinct correctional aspect in order to negate the possible misconceptions in terms of human’s rationale of engaging into war. Review of Related Literature Justifications of War: Overview

Was does not venture any claim about the extent to which moral justifications have been present for actual wars; it could therefore be affirmed by what we might call a de facto pacifist, who does not rule out the notional possibility of justified war in principle but thinks that as a matter of fact, wars have not been and typically never are justified (Evans 2005 205). Those who perceive that wars should be governed by a nation-state’s political interests, that, realists, and those who are advocates of just war share distaste for crusade justifications of war.

The realists regret it because often the moral justification given for a war make it difficult to end the war when our interests have been achieved (e. g. the irrationality of forcing Germany to accept unconditional surrender) (Hauwerwas 1995 140). Ethical justifications for resorting to war may certainly influence the conduct of operations. Insofar as they affect the governments of the warring powers and the international community, these justifications, too, lie outside the theory of war.

Their impact, if any, on the warring variables actually engaged in the war is subsumed in Clausewitz’s discussions of morale, loyalty, and the psychology of the fighting man (Evans 2005 132). Theoretical Frameworks Utilized Man Engage into War because of Instincts Standard theories of war deny that it is an emotional disorder, which is the usual perspective of the public over the initiators of such catastrophes. Unlike individual violence, war is usually seen solely as a response to events outside the individual.

Nations that start wars are not considered emotionally disturbed, but they are either seen as rational or they are evil, a religious category. Most historians of war have give up any attempt to understand its causes. Genocide, in particular, appears outside the universe of research into motivations, and if one tries to understand the Holocaust’s perpetrators, one is said to be giving up one’s right to blame them. At best, historians avoid the psychodynamics of the perpetrators of wars entirely (DeMause 2003 138).

Instincts (Moseley 2002 70) and other tautologies: The most common cited cause of war is that it is a result of human instinct for destruction (Moseley 2002 70; DeMause 2003 138). An instinct is an involuntary response by an animal to an external stimulus, resulting in a predictable and relatively fixed behavioral pattern. War, according to instinctivism, is solely explicable in terms of man’s inherited instincts. Some claims that these instincts may once have been highly beneficial for man’s populating the earth, but now pose a grave danger (Moseley 2002 70).

From Clausewitz’s “instinctive hostility” and Freud’s “instinct for hatred and aggression” down to biologist’s statements that war is macho sexual selection that accelerates cultural evolution, none of them notices that simply assuming an instinct for war without any genetic evidence at all is wholly tautological, which depicts that the majority’s desire for war is caused by the individual’s desire for war destruction (Moseley 2002 70; DeMause 2003 138). Since tribes and states spend more of their time at peace than at war, one must also then posit an instinct for peace that should favor survival even more.

Unfortunately, all tests for the heritability of violence have failed completely (DeMause 2003 138). Man is a biological being – an obvious statement, but one often forgotten when we play in the philosophical realms of ethereal notions and concepts. Our bodies are often ignored when the mind begins its ascent into the realm of ideas and the repercussions of dismissing biology are immense. War’s causation was laid at the door of human nature in general. The various theories proffered insightful but limited views of how man justifies war (Moseley 2002 70). The proposition that instincts cause warfare is divisible into three statements.

Firstly, instincts are a necessary condition for war, which implies that wars necessarily follow from automated instinctual urges. Secondly, instincts are a sufficient condition for the existence of war. Finally, instincts can be held as necessary and sufficient conditions for war (Moseley 2002 70). Man Engage Wars due to Subculture Differentiations Violence and culture have been related in the occurrence of wars and although, the term subculture has been used by anthropologists and sociologists in a variety of ways and contexts, it still contains much of the ambiguity.

The theoretical framework of Subculture of Violence Theory requires delimitation of those sub-cultural values that are shared by a substantial proportion of a population (Wolfgang 2001 113). Wolfgang and Ferracuti based their theory of a subculture of violence on a sociological theory of culture involving such concepts as culture conflict, differential association, and the value system; on a psychological theory of learning with concepts of conditioning, developmental socialization, and differential identification: and on war, violence and social conflict occurrences (Smith and Berlin 1998 268).

Sub-cultural theoretical framework that involves the occurrence of violence depicts its origination in the scope of cultural assimilations and culture-behavioral pattern formation. The theory is the combination of various perspectives ranging from cultural, behavioral, and sociological background that incorporates the origin of individuals. The conceptual framework of Wolfgang and Ferracuti has been assimilated to various cultural frameworks; however, the theory still obtained various criticisms from critics (Wolfgang 2001 113).

The fundamental theoretical framework of subculture of violence theory has provided an outline of broad assumptions: (1) some subcultures do not consider violence illegitimate; hence, considers war as an oppositional subject; (2) expectations of violence characterize some subcultures; and (3) penalties and sanctions may be administrated for failing to adhere to culturally prescribed beliefs concerning the necessity of violence under specific circumstances, such as warring conditions imposed to those enemies that contradict their social perspectives or engage conflicts that triggers social distaste (Walters 2002 81-82).

Subculture by definitions is a segment of society that holds norms and values that are distinct from the norms and values of mainstream society. Nevertheless, in some subcultures, norms and values evolve that support and legitimize the use of violence. For example, the expected normative response to disrespect becomes violence as opposed to some other alternatives; violence is not opposed to some other alternative; violence is not condemned and perpetrators of violence do not feel guilt for their actions.

Violent cultures, especially on colonizing empires in the past and the war-igniting-terrorist, may be depicted are also characterized by a high level of gun ownership, stories or songs that glorify violence, and rituals that stress such behavior (Flowers 2002 36; Mann 1993 79; Vito et. al. 2007 291). With a violent cultural background present, man is expected to activate his intrinsic capacity to war especially if contradiction or conflict between different social norms exists.

There is some empirical support for the existence of impoverished inner-city areas. It is essential to recognize, however, that such norms do not arise out of a vacuum. Rather they are tied to the cultural isolation, extreme poverty, and violence that exist in such neighborhoods (Vito et. al. 2007 291). The subculture of violence perspective tends to identify the value system of a given subculture as the locus of war causation.

Despite a paucity of research on African American culture and its characteristics, and the fact that Wolfgang and Ferracuti state that they are not prepared to assert how a subculture of violence arises (Flowers 2002 36; Mann 1993 79), their conceptualization appears to be the “most influential contemporary explanation among behaviors interested in the determinants of violence” (Mann 1993 79). The authors noted the basic evidence for their theory of the existence of a subculture of violence is still missing.

However, since their theory throws light on violence in specific socioeconomic groups, they believe that it is helpful and should be the subject of further research (Mann 1993 116; Smith and Berlin 1998 268). One of the points they made is that no subculture is totally different and in conflict with the society of which it is a part. Practitioners of violence in this subculture have learned this behavior through differential learning, association, or identification, and since it is not viewed as prescribed conduct, they do not have to deal with guilt feelings concerning their aggression (Smith and Berlin 1998 268).

The theory assumed that violence only occurs if violence itself is intrinsically present in the community, and eventually, encourage its occurrence. If the subculture engages in behavioral conflicts of violence, chances are, the individuals involved in such acts or those that are indirectly related to the occurrence of that act shall primarily be influence to redo the violent behavior due to the concept of violence-legalizations.

The theoretical framework has been based in the reflection of lower-class norms and a learned response to the pressures encountered in lower-class living, empirical support for the existence of impoverished inner-city areas, and the homicide occurrences in African Americans and whites. The social policy implicated involves mainly the racial equity between the races exampled. Discussion War in its very essence of morality and ethics is not entirely negative.

In fact, the behavioral patterns of dominion and conquer, which is perceived as the primary behavior responsible for the occurrence of war, have been beneficial tool in the molding of the present civilizations, significantly in the past. As with the theoretical framework presented, specifically subcultures and instinctive rationales, man is deemed to engage into war due to differentiations of norms, perspectives or ideation, or mainly if a certain side has been subjected to extreme ridicule. In every country, war is one the tool in order to secure the national interest of the country itself.

Without them fighting back or without systems of aggression, the valued identity, and integrity of their country can be the trade-off; hence, in order to protect their civilization from conflicts that are triggered, war or disputes in any form occurs. As for the applications of theoretical framework, the instinctivism portrays that man in his very nature is allocated to engage war. The drive of engaging into war is predetermined, which is viewed to justify the rationale for human being’s engagement of war.

On the other hand, the theoretical framework of subculture of violence, views that the very nature or environment of the individual triggers the initiative of going war. In the case of strict or oppressive government, a war will certainly erupt since the environment of the society harnesses violence and oppressive methodologies. Conclusion In the end part of this research paper, the argument on why human beings engage into wars can be subjected into two primary rationales. Human beings justify the occurrence of war through their intrinsic nature or instinct and/or the conditions of behavioral influence of violence in their society.

The very nature of man as a warring creature proposes that man justifies his engagement of war in order to fulfill hi instinctive needs. Subculture of violence theory provides explanation that man justifies war engagement as influenced by the conditions of his environment and the influence of violence present.


DeMause, Lloyd. The Emotional Life of Nations. Springer, 2003. Evans, Mark. Just War Theory: A Reappraisal. Edinburgh University Press, 2005. Flowers, R B. Kids Who Commit Adult Crimes: Serious Criminality by Juvenile Offenders. Haworth Press, 2002.

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