War has always been a controversial issue when discussed from an ethical perspective. Individuals who believe in the ideas of pacifism deny violence in any form. However, there are other theorists who defend the concept of a just war.
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This theory can be applied to the case study by David Luban. It describes two neighboring states, one of which (Republic of Geshem) has fertile soil and sells food for cash, and the other (Republic of Midbar) one year has a very poor harvest and no money and plans to wage war against the neighbor (Luban, 1985). The just war theory suggests that military action should be started only for serious reasons and only as a last resort (MacKinnon, 2018). In this case, the Republic of Midbar can be justified in initiating the war since they have already asked for help from the Republic of Geshem and received a refusal. Augustine of Hippo, who contributed to the development of the just war theory, implied that a war should not cause more harm than good (Sorabji & Rodin, 2020). In the case of the Republic of Midbar, the most probable alternative to war would be starvation and death so the war can be seen as necessary. However, it is highly important that it is conducted ethically with no civilian populations targeted and women raped.
However, if the Republic of Geshem starts the war before the other state strikes, their actions can also be justified. The just war theory emphasizes that it is the right and the responsibility of the state to protect its citizens if there is a danger of aggression (MacKinnon, 2018). On the other hand, the problem with that approach lies in the fact that the other country has not yet started the war. Overall, while this theory appears to be a middle ground between pacifism and rationalism, it also does not offer unambiguous guideline everyone can agree on.
Luban, D. (1985). Just war and human rights. In C. R. Beitz et al. (Eds.), International Ethics. Princeton University Press.
MacKinnon, B. (2018). Ethics: Theory and contemporary issues. Cengage Learning.
Sorabji, R., & Rodin, D. (2020). The ethic of war: Shared problems in different traditions. Taylor & Francis.