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UNL / Philosophy / PHIL 106 / Can non-violence be justified without using religious grounds?

Can non-violence be justified without using religious grounds?

Can non-violence be justified without using religious grounds?


School: University of Nebraska Lincoln
Department: Philosophy
Course: Moral Issues
Professor: Edward becker
Term: Fall 2016
Tags: Gandhi, preventativewar, justwar, terrorism, and aquinas
Cost: 25
Name: Just War Notes
Description: This is a bundle of notes that provides the different views of war and the injustice/justice of it. Also includes preventative war.
Uploaded: 11/18/2016
5 Pages 137 Views 1 Unlocks

Aquinas (on Just War)

Can non-violence be justified without using religious grounds?

I. Three conditions to justify war

a. Legitimate authority

i. Only a legitimate state can conduct a just war to defend itself against enemies 1. Nazi Germany was not a legit state; Islamic state may/may not be  

eligible to wage a just war

b. Must be a just cause

i. People being attacked in the war must have done something wrong to deserve  the war

c. Right intentions

i. Must intend the avoidance of evil

ii. Desire to inflict harm = bad intention

iii. Lust for power=bad intention

II. What does Thomas not say?

a. Consider when this was written and think of what was going on (the Crusades) i. The crusades were justifiable by the Pope

Is war justified when danger of attack is remote?

1. Even though they weren’t attacked; crusades wanted to expel those  

from Jerusalem

De Vitoria (follower of Aquinas) Don't forget about the age old question of How to find the ph of a weak acid solution?

I. Proper Authority

a. Similar to Thomas’ s first clause

b. Every state has the authority to acquire war

II. Just cause

a. Don’t have to be attack  

b. But have to had something wrong to you

III. Proportionality

a. Punishment inflicted on your enemy must be proportional to the one that occurred to  you

IV. Last Resort

a. A war is just only if a careful examination is made and making a list of those who oppose  the war on grounds of equity  

i. Carefully listen to arguments for the war

What are the three conditions to justify war?

V. Killing the innocent

a. Wars often involve killing of noncombat people

i. Deliberate slaughter of innocent people is never right (prima face) We also discuss several other topics like What are the favorable outcomes when rolling a die and trying to get an odd number?

ii. It is sometimes just to slay the innocent even knowingly if it fits under the  

prosecution of the just war and the rights under the war We also discuss several other topics like How many phrenic nerves are there?

VI. Back @ proportionality  Don't forget about the age old question of What is the most common post translational modification?

a. The evils arising out of a war must be less than the evils that would’ve happened if war  didn’t occur


I. War in itself

a. definition: war is an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will i. using violence to make others do what we want

b. how war escalates:  

i. 1st reciprocal action:

1. Each side forces the other to use increasingly violent means

2. Ex: WWII???? beginning: do not deliberately citizens…end: Allied  

surrounded a city with a ring of fire bombings

ii. 2nd reciprocal action:

1. Each side takes at its aim the disarm of its enemy

a. The only way to win the war is to make the other side unable to  


2. Ex: General Sherman deliberately destroyed the South’s resources in  

order to stop the South from fighting

iii. 3rd reciprocal action:

1. Each side forces the other to devote all of its resources to war

a. Ex: Hitler was able to maintain resources for both German  

population and the war???? when Germany was losing put all  We also discuss several other topics like How different are we across groups, cultures, and subcultures?

resources and man power to war

II. War & Politics

a. The political object of the war determines both the aim of military force and the amount  of effort to be made

i. What you’re trying to accomplish in war depends on your political object

ii. The amount of effort one puts into war depends on how much you care about  the political object

b. Ex: WWII – German fighting the Soviets & the French…were more brutal to fighting the  Soviets b/c viewed Soviets as sub-humans (racial inferiority)

c. “War starts from a political condition and it is therefore a political act…the political  object must accommodate to the means it employs”

i. The violent means you use in war must correlate with your political object

ii. Ex: war in Iraq???? Iraq military trying to not alienate its citizens in the war to get  support from its citizens

*he’s not talking about justifying war but how it develops

Gandhi (anti-violence)

∙ Non-violent Hindu philosophies he was able to apply throughout life

I. Personal aspects of non-violence

a. Although violence is better than cowardness; non violence is infinitely superior to  violence

i. Being non-violent can sometimes take tremendous courage

1. Hard to stand down while one gets beaten up by authorities If you want to learn more check out What is the 1st stage of gene expression?

b. Non-violence requires kinship with other animals

i. Nice to people and animals

c. Evil thoughts and deeds are inconsistent with non-violence

i. In order to be non-violent cannot have bad thoughts

d. Non-violence is for ordinary people

i. Trained huge groups of Indians non-violence

e. Non-violence is loving all living things, not just “do not kill”

f. Killing is justified:

i. To sustain our bodies (killing animals/plants for food)

ii. To protect those under our care (defending)

iii. Even manslaughter can be justified (self-defense)

1. Killing a murderer to prevent him from attacking

iv. *cannot do it out of hatred, rather love to those one is protecting

g. Intention: the difference between violence and non-violence

i. Must look at not only the act but the intention

h. Non-violence can soften the hardest hearts

i. Vengeance is weakness arousing out of fear  

j. Suffering injury in one’s own person is “of the essence of non-violence”

k. Fearlessness that is required of non-violence can be best learned through faith in God II. Political aspects of non-violence

a. Violence is wrong even for the sake of one’s country

i. Rejects patriotic appeals

b. Self-purification

i. Must get yourself morally pure in order to be helping in politics

c. Was asked about Switzerland engaging in war with Germany in WWII

i. Said the people of Switzerland must invite the Germans to walk over their dead  corpse

III. Issues

a. What about the psychological assumptions?

i. Non-violence will always be effective to extremists like Nazis?

b. Can non-violence be justified without using religious grounds?

Posner & Becker: Preventive War 

I. Posner: is war justified when danger of attack is remote?

a. Traditional answer: no

b. …sometimes yes; based on:

i. Cost-benefit analysis: weighing the alternatives & probabilities of the  

consequences from each alternative (desirability*probability= least/most  


1. Look @ your alternatives and see which one gives best outcome

2. Limitation on this b/c we cannot confidently assign probability # for  

future cost

ii. Remoteness of threats

1. Hard to determine cost-benefit analysis b/c we don’t know the  

remoteness of future threats

2. However, when it comes to potential high attacks (i.e. terrorists about  

to bomb New York City) it is better to attack them than to do nothing

c. Conclusion: Preventive war is sometimes justified

i. Ex: Hitler attack on Rhine Land

1. He was violating the Versailles treaty  

2. Britain and France were opposing it yet did nothing to prevent his attack

3. Should’ve fought to prevent Hitler from gaining power

II. Becker: Limitations of Conventional Approach

a. The Conventional view: in war, only justifiable when one is defending not attacking i. But what about against terrorists?

1. Cannot defend/ retaliate against terrorists b/c there is no definite  

capital/ area to attack

ii. What about suicide bombers?

1. Since they’re willing to die, there is no deterring them

2. Can’t wait for them to attack b/c they want to die

iii. Prevention is the only strategy

1. Can never be certain of attacks; yet prevention is even more urgent

iv. Enemies who have Weapons of Mass Destruction

1. Justifiable to attack them before they use these weapons


I. Justification of war

a. Nature of war/purpose:

i. Preservation of our lives and persons

ii. “The principles of nature justifies war because all animals endow with strength  to defend itself”

b. Society

i. War is not justify only when it deprives the rights of individuals

II. Defense of Person & Property

a. General:

i. Injury/prevention of injury forms the only justifiable cause of war

b. Specific grounds of war:

i. Numerous reasons to go to war

ii. 3 types of grounds:

1. Defense

a. If A country attacks B country…B country has right to go to war

2. Indemnity

a. Recovering something that was lost

b. Ex: B country attacks A country’s ship and steals A country’s  

property…A country can go to war

3. Punishment

a. Ex: even if A country cannot get back its property, it can attack B  

country as a punishment for B country’s wrongdoings

c. Immediacy of threat

i. “War is only justify if the danger of ourselves is immediate, mere fear of danger  is not a sufficient justification ,thus we are not justify in killing people merely  

because they formed a conspiracy to destroy us”

1. Cannot attack a country out of fear

2. Shows preventive war is not justified

d. Just means of war

i. Any such means ,if lawful, are justified  

ii. We are justify in ceasing our property & carrying out just punishments

iii. Additional just means:

1. Defend ourselves against allies of our enemies

2. To exact punishment

iv. In just war:

1. Is justified to put innocent individual in danger

2. Actions should have charity and helping others

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