Can violence be justified?

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A topic covered in some schools is War and Peace and a subset of this topic would be on today’s modern asymmetrical warfare against terrorists. This short set of notes will discuss the issues involving terrorism such as its cause and possible solutions. In the latter parts, it will also discuss the uses or limitations of war and violence as a tool to bring about peace or to achieve one’s aims. Examples will be drawn from . . .

. . .

Can violence be justified? Can war bring about peace?

While we view them as terrorists, they view themselves as freedom fighters. When acts of aggression or violence are committed, often the rationale of a ‘just cause’ is raised as a rallying cry. An act of violence can be defined as a violation of human rights, as enshrined in the Geneva Convention.  However, what is ‘just’, what is ‘right’, is highly subjective and the use of violence or war to resolve problems might lead to a disturbing mentality that ultimately, the violation of another’s human right, the taking away of another’s life can be morally acceptable.

Let’s look at some opposing arguments since as most GP teachers would advise, you will need to provide balance in one’s essay.

One common argument that justifies the use of violence is that the end justifies the mean. Yet, the validity of a ‘just cause’ is doubtful and subjective. For most cases, the parties involved are looking at the situation from completely different and irreconcilable perspectives . For example . .  .

To counter-argue, a point can be made on how justifying acts of violence sets a dangerous precedent. This is because it de-emphasizes human suffering that occurs because of such acts of violence. It might desensitize and even perpetuate a certain detachment towards violence, which is neither progressive nor beneficial for any civilised society. An example that perhaps could be used is capital punishment. One reason why capital punishment is accepted it due to it  . . .

However, this is from a pacifist and humanitarian point of view. At GP level, there are many relevant and simple arguments one can make on the need for violence (or war – depending on the question)

Firstly, violence or acts of aggression can be justified when one is simply the victim of an unprovoked attack. Students, however, would need to take this argument further. It must be clarified that all other options have been exhausted or that time is a factor in deciding a course of action. Examples would include the invasion of Kuwait or the Crimea incident in Ukraine.

Next, ironically, violence is perhaps a tool to curb further violence or transgressions. Consider these case-studies in which human rights abuses were halted through violence / conflict.  . . .


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