General Question

Nially_Bob's avatar

Is war irrefutably bad?

Asked by Nially_Bob (3844points) August 8th, 2009
42 responses
“Great Question” (0points)

A rather vague question I admit but allow me to elaborate.
When discussing war (referring to militairy warfare conducted between two opposing societies or ‘nations’ for the purposes of this discussion) many tend to agree that it is a bad state of affairs even when concurring with the reasoning and justification for said war, however this is typically based upon a moral standpoint. Has war been analysed from every angle and accordingly been proven to be irrefutably bad in all regards? Logically is war actually more beneficial than detrimental to us as a species? Is morality objective enough for one to design a valid idea on? From a Nihilistic perspective can we honestly state what war can be classified as? Do you believe that irrelevant of conflicting opinions war is in its entirety a good or a bad concept?
Please share your thoughts with me my friends.

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marcosthecuban's avatar

war is part of the human condition; to fully answer your question we’d have to also ask are humans bad?

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I generally hold utilitarian beliefs, so try as I might, I don’t think I’d be able to answer any other way. “Logical” might be completely different for each individual.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Yes. War is bad. It represents a complete failure of human decency.

jaketheripper's avatar

It depends on your worldview. If you are espouse an atheistic, neo-darwinian point of view then it would be a mechanism for elimination of the weak which is a positive thing for the species. I am a christian and i believe that life is sacred and that war is bad because it violates the sanctity of life.

Vincentt's avatar

I don’t think you can objectively make ethic statements.

Also, it depends what you mean by “beneficial to us as a species”. Would a larger population be beneficial? Is a population with just enough natural resources for everyone best? Is high average happiness best? Is safety for the weak best? Is having a generally strong population best?

rebbel's avatar

“When discussing war (referring to militairy warfare conducted between two opposing societies or ‘nations’ for the purposes of this discussion)”

Start a war, just for the purpose of this discussion…. That’s bad.

tinyfaery's avatar

It thins the population, and generally those with violent natures are the first to go. Except now, too many innocent people get in the way.

clodoveo's avatar

War is a human condition so is unavoidable, and it will always exist in our lives, but of course is bad. War, trough history, has brought opportunities, technological achievements, and economical growing to almost every country. And almost every technology that we have nowadays is because of it, so, despite the moral consequences, you can say it’s a good thing. But that it’s a mistake. I think the human being has the ability to create a better life without war, our technology is created because of our necessities, and war brings that. But in my opinion, it’s stupid to create those necessities to ourselves trough war.
If we could just stop for a second, and see the world from the outside, we’ll see a bunch of people living in the same place fighting for nothing in an endless war until they became all extinct. So, what is the purpose of causing all the suffering and misery? if we could achieve the same without killing each others? War has any meaning to our existence as human beings?

Nially_Bob's avatar

@marcosthecuban Do you believe that humans are bad my friend?
@DrasticDreamer Utilitarianism? Meeting those with strong utilitarian beliefs seems to be an increasingly uncommon scenario for me. It’s a pleasure.
If you hold such beliefs then is it not impossible to assume war to be irrefutably ‘bad’ as it would depend mainly upon the circumstances of the particular war? I would disagree with your thoughts concerning logic. Is logic not a discipline designed specifically to study, amend and apply valid reasoning?
@The_Compassionate_Heretic What leads you to this conclusion?
@jaketheripper A ‘neo-darwinian’ atheist may also state that we have evolved beyond such things.
@Vincentt By “beneficial to us as a species” I am inquiring as to whether war possesses any benefits for humans whatsoever. Would a larger population be beneficial? What do you think my friend?
@rebbel I have no intention of beginning any manner of war. I am interested in the subject and trust in peoples ability to be generally civil; perhaps I am naive.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Nially_Bob I think war, no matter what the war is about or who it’s being fought by, is bad above all else – even when considering the little glimpses of the positives that can be a direct result of war. The positives don’t outweigh the negatives, however.

A lot of people have the misconception that utilitarian ideas can be applied to war – but it’s a huge mistake to make. Utilitarianism is “the ethical doctrine that virtue is based on utility, and that conduct should be directed toward promoting the greatest happiness of the greatest number of persons.”

War does not allow this. War may seem utilitarian to people in one of the nations directly involved – since in one way or another the greatest number of people in that nation will benefit from said war. However, what about the people in the opposing (“losing”) nation? Do they stand to benefit from the war? Not at all. Which is why no war may ever be described as utilitarian – because leaders don’t start wars looking to benefit people in their own nation and other nations, as well. They start wars to benefit them and theirs, but no one else.

Vincentt's avatar

@Nially_Bob I don’ot think anything’s really beneficial to humanity in general. If humanity becomes extinct, well, so be it, it’s not like humanity as a being really cares about that. To me, personally, I don’t see any direct benefits to me personally of most wars. Of course, I could consider wars fought in the past which mean that I now live in a welfaring country, but I’d have to see if it was worth it to me. Which, in turn, depends on what the outcome would be if there had been no war. So I guess there might be a scenario in which I might be glad that a particular war had happened. But I’m getting in serious conflict with myself now…

@DrasticDreamer So what if their population is far larger than the enemy’s?

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Vincentt It doesn’t apply. The very definition of the words “utilitarian” and “utilitarianism” were not designed or set into place to consider the size of multiple populations/nations individually. The entire idea and concept behind utilitarianism is to look at human beings as a whole – not as beings separated by different nations. Basically: That there is only one population size, which would be that of the entire human race.

So when considering war, the size of the different populations inside each nation does not matter. War does not benefit the greatest number of people.

rebbel's avatar

@Nially_Bob Of course i know you don’t.Just tried a little joke.
But, my gut-feeling says me, yes, (insert Mr. Mackey’s voice here) war is bad

Nially_Bob's avatar

@rebbel Well jokes are not permitted here! This is serious business! GRRR :|
Can you trust your gut feeling alone on such a complex concept do you believe?

juwhite1's avatar

I think that war itself is inherently bad, but I also think that failing to enter into some wars is also inherently bad. For example, if we did not fight in Germany during WWII, the extreme suffering, murder, and abuse of those in concentration camps would have continued unfettered. Better to be willing to kill and to die for the protection of those who have been subjugated than to continue to live in a peaceful society that blinds itself to the inhumane treatment of others.

lloydbird's avatar

War is very good for perpetuating obscenity.

Ivan's avatar

Since the concept of “bad” is ambiguous and subjective, it would be near impossible to objectively conclude that all wars are “bad”. I could just as easily request that you prove that murder is bad.

Quagmire's avatar

It’s like the song says,

“WAR! What is it good for? ABSOLUTELY NUTHIN’ ”

lloydbird's avatar

@Quagmire It’s good for business.Good for profit.

filmfann's avatar

War is stupid
And people are stupid
And love means nothing
In some strange quarters

We are involved in many more wars than we should, but it is sometimes unavoidable, and correct.

clodoveo's avatar

@Ivan “Bad” could be ambiguous from a methodical and strict point of view, but we are not androids or computers, our intelligence is beyond a strict and logical way of thinking, as humans, we have the capabillities of understanding what good and wrong is, and it’s true that there are certain aspects of good and evil that we can consider as subjective, but murder is a direct violation of the human rights and life in general, and the majority of people in the world would agree, so that’s the rule, and that’s the base of common sense, even a murderer can recognize that what he’s doing is a bad thing (unless he’s mentally incapable of doing so, but that would be an exception).

What your are saying is that I’m able to jump to my neighbor’s backyard, kill he’s noisy dog and then explain to him that what I did is not “bad” because “bad” is ambiguous.

It makes no sense.

filmfann's avatar

@clodoveo Welcome to Fluther. Lurve.

Ivan's avatar


I won’t speculate as to how you drew that conclusion from my comment, but that’s not what I’m saying at all. Nial mentioned that we cannot logically “prove” that war is bad. I was merely claiming that such a request is somewhat nonsense. Sure, we can all come to a societal consensus that murder is “bad”, but that is far from objective truth, regardless of how deeply ingrained that belief is in our genes.

PerryDolia's avatar

War is bad. Irrefutably bad. Horrible bad.

There is nothing honorable about war.

Anyone who who has been there and seen the mindless stupidity of the killing, maiming and mayhem knows this.

clodoveo's avatar

@Ivan Well that’s true, we can’t logically prove that war is bad for a society, but I differ in the comparison between “war” and “murder”, because in a war, not only the soldiers but even the civilians are somewhat prepared for the worst, and they are also in the expectation of something “good” when the war is over. But you can’t compare that with murdering someone. Murder is wrong however it is. That’s my opinion.

Ivan's avatar


Well, I associate the word “murder” with “killing”, so I do compare war with murder.

clodoveo's avatar

@Ivan Well, it that case I see your point, but they still are two different concepts in my opinion.

eekads's avatar

Depends on the reason.

filmfann's avatar

@eekads Welcome to Fluther. Lurve.

marcosthecuban's avatar

humans are born with broken DNA- we’re all defective. But there’s hope for us.

irocktheworld's avatar

Peace not war
Nothing good about it….

ShanEnri's avatar

You cannot have peace without war. Kind of makes sense, but then again not!

dannyc's avatar

Irrefutable evidence for anything is pretty well an impossible task, so I would say no.

lloydbird's avatar

@ShanEnri That reminds me of the old T-shirt slogan:-


dynamicduo's avatar

Not for a country like America who is based on consumerism. The government spends the citizens’ tax money on buying military supplies for wars, and those companies employ Americans for the most part.

filmfann's avatar

@dynamicduo By that logic, if terrorists REALLY want to destroy the country, they would not attack us, ruining our job base and economy.

cbloom8's avatar

One should only engage in war as a mean of retaliation and redemption or for protection. It should have nothing to do with intervening with other fights, gaining control over others, etc. It should be use only as protection.

growler's avatar

I believe that war is bad because, as @The_Compassionate_Heretic said, it represents the failure of human decency (though I might argue reason rather than decency). We engage in war for selfish reasons. No, it cannot always be avoided, but that is only because one or more parties are unwilling to listen to reason/decency.

Jack_Haas's avatar

War isn’t bad for world economies. It lifted the US economy from a recession and reconstruction efforts in countries like france and Germany generated an economic boom that lasted 2 decades.

On a human level, naturally, everyone in their right minds know that war is irrefutably bad but what many people refuse to understand is that it can also be the lesser of 2 evils.

mattbrowne's avatar

It’s a last resort, but sometimes necessary for example when stopping genocide.

SmartAZ's avatar

When you say “irrefutably” you have to consider who you are discussing the topic with. Some people can refute anything you say with a snort. Others will respond with something stupid and they think they have won the conversation when you can’t think of an appropriate reply.

According to some famous general, “The objective in war is not to die for your country. It’s to let that other poor dumb b*st*rd die for his country.” But it’s worth noticing that the guys on both sides are poor dumb b*st*rds.

SmartAZ's avatar

@Jack Haas That is an awfully dum th… Uh, I mean I don’t understand why you would say such a thing. War does not “lift” an economy. That is a lie used by the bankers to make people think it’s patriotic to support war. It is only true for war manufacturers. For the rest of the world, war wastes resources and kills people.

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