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Ethics of War based on religion Essay

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If you ask anyone, they will give you their opinion, their view on war. Whether they believe its right, its wrong, or if they think it is all based on the situation at hand. Wars have been going on since the beginning and they are still going on today, but are they being fought for a purpose? Are they being fought due to a situation that has arisen? This essay will discuss two ethical frameworks and how they apply to the same issue. The ethical issue that will be discussed throughout this essay is that of ‘War’, and the frameworks that surround it are Situation Ethics and the Duty-Based Ethics.

Situation ethics is when a choice is made based on the circumstances at hand. In situation ethics there is no right or wrong answer as each circumstance has different outcomes. “Situation ethics rejects prefabricated decisions and prescriptive rules’. It teaches that ethical decisions should follow flexible guidelines rather than absolute rules, and be taken on a case by case basis.”  This ethical framework provides so much discussion as each situation that evolves will have a reaction, and the challenge is to choose the least harmful or problematic option; it all depends on the situation. The situation ethics surrounding war is if it’s right to fight against a country. There was recently a situation whether or not it was right for the USA to invade Syria for using chemical weapons. The outcome was that the USA did not end up going to war, as it would cause more damage then what has already happened. Although Barack Obama, the president of the USA, did apprehend the chemical weapons so cases like this did not happen again.

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Duty-based ethics is when someone does the right thing even though it may cause more harm then good. There are people out there who criticize men and women from the defence forces for being ‘killers’, but this is not the case, these men and women put their lives on the line so they can fight for freedom, for those who can’t. Duty-based ethics teaches that some acts are right or wrong because of the sorts of things they are, and people have a duty to act accordingly, regardless of the good or bad consequences that may be produced. “Some kinds of action are wrong or right in themselves, regardless of the consequences.”. A soldier would have to face duty-based ethics on a regular bases throughout a war, as it is their job to fight and protect people against harm. Ben Roberts-Smith is a prime example, as he put himself on the line by drawing away the enemy, just so the rest of his unit would survive. That is just one example of many different types of duty-based ethics that would be faced throughout a war.

Although situation ethics and duty-based ethics are quite different they both apply to the ethical issue of war. Each framework discussed in the essay applies to war, but situation ethics seems to be the weaker of the two as it is based on what the person thinks the best outcome will be in that situation rather then, duty-based ethics which is what the right thing is to do at that moment in time. Duty-based ethics is definitely the one that relates best to the issue of war, as it is a soldier’s job to do what is right, at the moment the issue arises.

Throughout this essay the ethical issue of war was discussed based on the ethical frameworks that surround it, which are situation ethics and duty-based ethics. The framework that proves to be the more applicable comparison to the issue of war is duty-based ethics, because they are decisions made based on the right thing to do.


BBC. “Duty-Based Ethics.” BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2014. .

BBC. “Situation Ethics.” BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2014. .

Whittaker, Matt. Soldier in Afghanistan. 2011. Afghanistan. Http://static.guim.co.uk/. Web. 14 Mar. 2014. .

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