2021 Abstracts Stage 2

Is war entirely immoral?

William Roberts, 2021, Stage 2

War has very distinct and polarising effects on people and does not have to look far to gauge a common consensus on how negatively it can be viewed, because of its destructive, chaotic, and immoral nature. Very few people have been prepared to argue that war is morally desirable, so the question central to this investigation will query whether war can be seen viewed as something beyond purely immoral, and beyond the initial preconceptions, so that we might perhaps view it in a way that enlightens us, and is productive to us. The investigation is split into 4 sections.
– ‘War should obviously be morally wrong.’
Why do we think war is wrong? Are our assumptions based on dogmatic tendencies?
– ‘Is Killing wrong, and should it be wrong within warfare?’
Using Immanuel Kant’s universalising imperative, I will suggest it is wrong to kill, however, I will engage with an understanding of self- defence in war, arguing that scenarios such as war create a problem for these initial assumptions.
– ‘Why do we go to war?’
What reasons can we provide for going to war? Can we justify it?
I aim to introduce Hegel’s historicism, exploring the ‘purifying’ ontogenetic capacities of war (war might be required to achieve peace and stability in the first place), and Machiavelli’s pluralism, to provide a different interpretation that a leader who is governing and conducting warfare should not consider ethics at all.
– ‘The Nuclear Age: Do we need to reconsider the ethics of war?’
Informally referred to in my investigation as “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”, I will bring everything together with consideration to growing temporary warfare to revaluate our understanding of morality; technology and the advent of possible nuclear destruction change ethics?

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