Cicero's Just War Theory Analysis

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Several people from different walks of life have extended their own opinions on just and unjust wars. Defencists argue the need to engage in war as an act of defense when there is a threat, such as facing a country what initiated a violent war, overthrowing a cruel and oppressive government, and protecting its people against an invader; the Realists’ belief is similar to those of the Defencists, but that war is said to be just when your moral standards call for it (Orend, 2009). For instance, fighting against the US government after it overthrew your previous dictator, but then proceeded to use Phosphorus shells on civilian targets. As a Realist soldier ordered by the US government to participate in this war, you would call for the right to…show more content…
Four centuries before St. Augustine, Cicero presented a clear theory on ethical wars. His ideologies were informed by his political experiences from the ranks of the Roman cursus honorum as a consul, senatorship and governorship. Cicero not only witnessed the transition of the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire, but he participated in various military actions as well, from civil wars to threats of invasion to international conquests (Haskell, 1946). In the book On the Commonwealth (de res publica), Cicero states that the conflict should first be addressed by diplomatic discussion, and that war should be the last resort. Honor and safety were also said to be the only two reasons for a war to be just, and that war itself is not honorable, and should be avoided. He also presents an outline of criteria for just wars in the Book III of On the Commonwealth, namely: (a) a proper motive; (b) due announcement and proclamation; (c) demand of restitution (Cicero’s ideas are mainly political in nature, implying that the government, or the commonwealth, had the just reason to go to war for two main purposes; that is: (a) to right a wrong that has been perpetrated against it by another state, or vengeance; and (b) to protect itself from destruction, or self-defense (Neste,…show more content…
Cicero’s theory being secular in nature provides enough room for evaluation by other religions. Its value on the state as a responsible agent in war and conflict may further be developed since it is centered on justice, which comes from social discourse. Thus, the definition of justice according to Cicero may appear vague. This is where Aristotle’s theory of justice comes into play. According to Aristotle, justice differs in form depending on the situation. This is a far cry from Plato’s assertion that justice remains the same across all situations. He divides the notion of justice into two, the first being the complete justice, defined as the virtue of members of a community or the goodness of life of an entire community as a whole, and the second being partial justice, which conforms to how we define justice today in different cases and situations (Johnston, 2011) . In simpler words, in the Philippine context, complete justice may not necessarily apply to the entire country when once puts into account all the corruption, mischief, and poverty. On the other hand, the punishment of policemen who had been involved in minority killings may be considered as something close to partial
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