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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Justifying War - 1712 words
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When a person sees all the grisly images of war on the television set they cannot help but think, "This has got to stop". But what reasons can this person justify their decision on? There are many people in the world who can only argue their opinion through what they see on TV, which of course is not what war is. In William Earle's essay "In Defense of War" and Trudy Govier's "Nuclear Illusion and Individual Obligations" we respectively see a pro-war and an anti-war opinion. We must differentiate between the two because Earle's essay talks about war in generalities but Govier focuses on the nuclear aspect of war. As with most essays discussing similar topics they have their similarities and differences and that will be a big part of discussion here.
Subjects referring to the morality and justification as war and exactly what we can use to justify it are some of the few things that will be mentioned. These will also be discussed in ethical terms and what part of ethics they fall into. Along with this will be an analysis of why each essay falls into its given category. The strengths of each essay will be mentioned as well as the weaknesses and a comparison as to which is the stronger essay and which is the weaker essay will be provided. The most important part, however, is the basic understanding of the message that the author is trying to get across
These main points will be highlighted throughout the paper when discussing the essay in question along with the provided evidence that accompanies the argument. Finally, a personal take on the subject from me will be provided just to clarify any discrepancies about what is written. I am writing this (aside from the fact it is a major assignment) in hopes that the reader will take these questions seriously and be able to look at both sides of the debate rationally and without fallacy. It only seems appropriate to start this out with Williams Earle's essay, "In Defense of War". I stand beside him when he provides his opinion because I share the same attitude on this subject.
In a nutshell, Earle provides a provocative look at the opposition's view towards war which is the anti-war opinion. It appears that Earle is not like most writers trying to defend his own argument with his own ideas but what he does is position his argument that war is necessary by unveiling the ideas of the pacifists. He gives us reasons why most people are with this group and it is because media has provided such a false look at the concept of war. When a person sees the consequences of war on their TV (which is usually dismembered bodies and bloodshed) they do not realize that TV is confined to showing what can be shown since it cannot offer any picture to the thought of war. The media does not provide a real look at what war really is.
Earle criticizes the underlying presuppositions of pacifism as well as tracing the harmful consequences of it. He believes that the principle of pacifism is absurd and morally deplorable. Ideally, war is evil and peace is good. This is the perspective that pacifism takes. The supposed pacifists who Earle says are retired baby doctors, neurotic poets and novelists, psychoanalysts, ministers and confused philosophers claim they have some sort of "special insight" that allows them to speak out for the suffering of humanity.
In doing so they eliminate the careful political thought and emerge with slogans that are supported by massive demonstrations and the exchanging of insults. Since they see no justification for war they believe that there has to be a cause and in turn a solution to the problem. Earle believes the justification needed for war is in fact its own cause. Pacifists trash around for explanations of why bad things happen. They constantly spout out reasons for this. All in all, the assumption of these explanations is that there can be no moral justification for war at all.
It is pure evil and since man is naturally good there must be a cause. Earle points out that if a man does not seek for causes for a man doing good works other than the goodness of the work itself, then there is no need to seek biological, psychological, cultural, or sociopolitical causes for a justifiable war. In this sense, the justification for the war is the cause. An important point is made when Earle says that a "justifiable war" could be a contradiction in terms but it could be the pacifist who represents a living contradiction in terms. The fact that men are not naturally good or peaceful means that an explanation for this is found in the artificial distortion of the pacifists' passionate nature. Earle blames this on the way they think rather then the way it actually is.
Men are rational creatures but neither reason nor spirit belongs if they continue living on a primal instinct that is contradictory to the natural state of man. He is constantly blaming the irrationality of these pacifists for their absurd arguments. They believe that a treaty is a verbal solution to end these hostilities. Philosophically a treaty seems like the perfect answer but because their confidence in words is faltered by actual reality they do not see that the mind, their so-called strength, is obligated to tend to the existential needs of its own life. This is why is the last 350 years around 85 percent of treaties signed in the Western world have been broken.
It can be proud of the fact that an aggressor or culprit has been identified. They believe another solution may as well be a single super-state. Everything must be put in order but Earle offers a very clever look into this. This order needs to be imposed but it is imposed by the force that made it so horrible. With this imposed order is it wrong to say that its protestors are now the order's enemies? Earle says that the first thing lost sight of is a small point of logic that any order is also only itself a specific order. Its medium of existence is the word so talk is cheap. If this were to happen hostilities would not have been eliminated but only redubbed so we would not have two nations fighting but a civil war within this World State.
This is all wrong. There is a proper justification to war and the world does not need a solution. This justification removes the premise of the search for causes and cures. This justification aims at showing both its morality and rationality; if there are occasions when a moral and rational man must fight, then in principle a proscription of war itself is rational and moral. This justification is primarily existence.
But this term of existence is too open. Life is more then just existing. It is more then just the beating of the heart. It is then justifiable to fight not only to stay alive but to keep those things that make life worth living. A criticism could be that all could be shared by man, all goods and possessions. But existence or life individuates itself.
We must be able to say I instead of We and my instead of Ours. Individuation is essential to existence. This is thought to be selfish but Earle points out that it is not selfish to protect ones own life, or those of their family, friends, or compatriots. It is important to protect our human life with its wealth, customs, laws, and basic autonomy. The pacifists who are not willing to protect his own life or another by killing another person must really hate themselves. The objections to war are plentiful, even soldiers believe there is nothing heroic about war.
But is it not heroic to risk your life to save a fellow soldier, to live in mud and rain with poor food and constant danger? Heroism is going beyond ones duty under extreme circumstances and when a soldier says something like that on TV people do not see the actual deeds he is performing. When it comes to the actual "people" we have to distinguish who they really are. The only ones with the right to complain are the citizens of that actually country and even then their government, whom they are bound by duty to listen to, makes the final decision. Earle goes to point out that in any event, war and peace decisions are determined by those who are in the national government and not the radical groups or pacifists that so openly disagree. One of Earle's ending point's opens up our minds.
He says that victory does not always fall to the just, and in turn victory is no measure of the justice of the cause. He goes to say that one is not defeated if they fought well. It is something far more important that allows this, the infinite self-respect which defines our humanity. In some cases battles are so unequal that going into them are simply suicidal. However, a victory for the defeated comes out of this simply because the courage needed to do this is something that most do not have.
It is a virtue that can carry one to transcendental realms. Without war, this courage cannot take place. The honor and pride that come from war are necessary if we are to lead meaningful existences. Even though wars are not fought to prove courage, they do prove it all the same. When it comes to ethical concerns this essay falls underneath all three: character, utilitarian, and deontological.
The main ethical concern is utilitarianism. By what Earle says we can see that his ends justify the means. The pure honor and pride one gets from protecting human life and dignity is well worth the battle. When a person is willing to risk his life for the selfless reasons of others is that not enough to justify fighting and even killing another human being? Is it not right to take the necessary means to survive when you have so much to live for? In pacifism there is no honor, and with no hono ...
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