Could there be an ethical justification for war?
Today, we live in a world where news of wars is no longer breaking news, but an apparent occurrence and, sadly, normal. We live in a time when the news of a country invading another is so common that such news no longer shocks. Ironically, we also live in a time with heavy documentation and details on the ‘right ‘ways to engage and protect the sovereignty of each other. We live in a time where much emphasis is laid on the signing of documents and bilateral discussions in long conference meetings, but little emphasis on the overall necessity of justice. Every time the ugly head of war pops up, we rarely refer to the documents and procedures, but whispers from the walls mention individual countries’ interests, salient unknown details and supremacy battles which negate all we have gained overtime.
At what point is war just? Is there a point when a sovereign country is justified to invade another? What nature of invasion is allowed? Who monitors the excesses that might come with such an invasion? Is war a sustainable route to peace and justice or is it a short cut with shortcomings? Which avenue(s) of engagement is most ideal for a just world? Is politics the cause of all our problems? Is war people-centric? Does it take into account the intrinsic dignity of a human person or is it only focused on interests? Clearly, as you can see, there are so many questions regarding war that still remain unanswered.
It is for this reason that the November Edition of Philosophers’ Breakfast, an event organized by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, focused on the question of a just war.
Does philosophy have anything to contribute to ensure a just world? Yes, the unanimous answer was that Philosophy is the last hope for a just world. With philosophy, one can think of a world without wars. How possible is this?
While it is easy to draw artificial boundaries and build walls to prevent the movement of people from one location to another, there is one thing which remains the same; a common denominator in all human undertakings. That which unites all of us is neither political interests nor the sovereignty of a country but the universal dignity or self-worth of a human being, the basic principles of freedom and the preservation of life. The war should be directed, squarely to the enhancement of the dignity of the human person through elimination of propaganda, and engagement in honest discussion to restore dignity.
While it is easy to be aggrieved looking into the complexities of world politics, it should not be lost on the leaders and the decision makers that, besides human dignity, all else remains secondary. Therefore, the interventions by different countries in the instabilities of others should start and end at the promise of the enhancement of human dignity and value.
Through the change of focal point and commitment to clearly understanding the nature of the human being and the sacredness of life then it is surely possible to have a world devoid of war. Such efforts, though, might appear to be only a preserve of the leaders, however we too have a hand in them. It could start by genuinely desiring to understand the ultimate end of man, through a study of nature and the common good. With this understanding, the menial consequences of nature such as color, race, tribe and special abilities should stop separating us, with the intrinsic dignity of the human being becoming the uniting factor and guiding principle in all our undertakings.
A world without war shall surely be the natural consequence of this undertaking. A duty for all of us.
If you are willing to participate in this and such debates; join us in the Masters in Applied Philosophy and Ethics for classes in January. Click here for more details: http://shss.strathmore.edu/study-at-shss/postgraduate-programmes/mape
This article was written by Gabriel Dinda
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