My thesis is that war is ethically wrong. My main argument goes as follows: Any action that kills an innocent person without their direct consent is ethically wrong; war kills innocent people without their direct consent. Therefore war is ethically wrong.
The first premise of my main argument states that any action that kills an innocent person without their direct consent is ethically wrong. On average, many people would agree with this statement. To kill an innocent person for whatever reason would hold up as murder in a court of law. Yet, one might object to the part of the premise that states, ‘direct consent.’ This leaves room to debate the questionable subject of euthanasia. By one giving direct consent to someone else to terminate their life, would, according to the premise be acceptable.
Though euthanasia is not the subject of this paper it is important to understand that direct consent of the individual is essential to establish the unethical grounds of war. If direct consent to die was given by all innocent people in times of war then there would be no moral issue to discuss. Accordingly, imposing one’s will, though the intentions may be good, is second-rate to the right of the individual to give direct consent in matters concerning their life.
My second premise states that war kills innocent people without their direct consent. History has been a great teacher in proving to us that innocent people die in times of war. Yet, one could even argue that the soldiers in the war are considered innocent people and do not necessarily give their direct consent to be killed.
This may sound ludicrous since often times a soldier goes into the military on his or her own free will. Yet, when the soldier sign’s up he or she never sends a letter or calls the enemy and states that the enemy has their direct consent to kill them. This is absolute nonsense. It is only indirectly that death comes about. It is never by choice or desire. When a soldier enlists he or she signs up to fight for the cause of there country, they did not sign up to be voluntarily slaughtered.
This is also helpful to show the innocent nature of a soldier. On average most soldiers join the military because they believe that the cause they are defending is right. This is important to understand seeing that war is hardly ever one sided. Upon examining one can see that when nations are battling rarely does one side feel that they are the big, bad evil enemy. Both sides feel justified in their cause and are willing to fight for their beliefs. Even during World War II, Nazi Germany felt justified to rise from their poverty state and lash out against the nations that had oppressed them.
This helps set the stage to understand why war is ethically wrong. If both sides feel that they are right in their cause then it is also easy to state that both sides are wrong. One might give the objection, “What if a country invades my homeland, don’t I have the right to protect myself by killing them?” The answer to this question is an unwavering no. Great men such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. have proven that one can throw off the shackles of tyranny without the shedding of blood. If you were to oppose your enemy by taking the life of an innocent person then you would be as guilty as your attacker.
My first sub-premise is that everyone has the right to life. Simply by breathing you exercise your right to exist on the earth. From the beginning of civilizations there has always been rules or laws established to protect this right. Whether it has been the simple Mosaic law of ‘thou shall not murder’ to the complex laws that we have today, the right to life has always been recognized as a universal principle for all people.
My second sub-premise for my main argument is that killing an innocent person without their direct consent violates the right to life. A drunken husband comes home and savagely beats and kills his wife. With this example it is easy to see how the wife’s right to life is being violated. Did the wife give her husband direct consent to beat and kill her, most likely not. Did the husband rationally think to ask his wife if he could brutally beat and kill her, again probably not. The act of killing an innocent person without their direct consent infringes on the right to life because the intrinsic value of choice has been stolen away form the individual.
This understanding leads to the finally sub-premise that it is ethically wrong to violate one’s right to life.
According to Dictionary of Religion and Philosophy the term ethical comes from the Greek word ethos, which means custom or usage. Plato used this term to mean a custom or usage to designate the right way of behaving. To violate one’s right to life very easily falls under the wrong custom or usage of the right way of behaving or more simply put, it would be unethical. Whether a man beats and kills his innocent wife or nation’s war against each other there is no difference when it comes to the right to life. Without direct consent it is ethical wrong to violate one’s right to life.
Throughout this paper I have proven my thesis that war is ethically wrong by stating two main arguments, they were: Any action that kills an innocent person without their direct consent is ethically wrong; war kills innocent people without their direct consent. It is through these premises that one can see that the conclusion that war is ethically wrong, is valid and sound reasoning.