When and how is the use of force justified? (Political Theory)

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posted on Aug, 25 2013 @ 08:19 PM
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There is a long history of philosophical works focused on determining the legitimacy of force. Much of political philosophy is concerned with this very subject; how to legitimize the use of force. In fact, one could argue that all the political ideologies known to mankind are differentiated from each other based on this very question. When and how is force justified? Let us briefly look over the five most common ideologies in light of this question, then we will look at the deeper ramifications for each idea when it is put into practice.(Note: The following will use strict/classical definitions and do not necessarily reflect the historical representations of said ideologies.)

Democracy: The use of force within a Democracy is determined by the will of the majority. In this system, Civil Rights are of more importance than Natural Rights. Theoretically, if 6 out of 10 people support an argument that wearing sandals promotes a health risk (ie. the spread of athletes foot), then anyone wearing sandals can legitimately have their Natural and Civil Rights violated.

Civil Rights = privileges granted by majority/societal consent. Natural Rights = inalienable rights that are beyond anybody's authority to dismiss.

Republic: The use of force within a Republic is determined by the will of the law. Theoretically, the "law" is created by members of a legislative body who are voted into power by the public. If someone breaks the "law" they can have their Civil Rights violated. Natural Rights are considered "sacred" under this ideology, and thus are never to be violated under any circumstance.

Monarchy: The use of force within a Monarchy is determined by the will of the King or Queen. Theoretically, whatever the King or Queen says, goes. Essentially the only legitimate rights within a Monarchy is the Divine Rights of the King or Queen.

Oligarchy: The use of force within an Oligarchy is determined by the will of the few, who are often the most wealthy and influential within a given society. An Oligarchy most often arises within an already established structure of governance, thus the legitimacy of rights can vary. However, common to all Oligarchy's, the pre-existing laws are corrupted and distorted to reflect the will of the Oligarch's.

Authoritarianism The use of force within Authoritarianism is determined solely by the will of the ruler(s). Legitimacy for the use of force is usually not given or seen as necessary, as within a Monarchy, whatever the ruler(s) say, goes. Most commonly, law under Authoritarianism is established and maintained by a General, or a group of Generals, and implemented by the military.

Anarchism The use of force within Anarchism cannot be legitimized in any substantive way, obviously, since there are no rulers or hierarchical structures of authority to determine "legitimacy". Conflicts and disputes within an Anarchist society is thus resolved solely by individuals through non-violent means. In extreme cases, say in self-defense against an attacker, force may instinctively be used by an individual, yet it still, in no way, can be legitimized.

Now, let us look at some of the implications for each ideology:

Democracy: A common critique of Democracy is that it results in the equivalent of "mob-rule". Essentially, violence can be used against anyone as long as they are in the minority of any given circumstance or opinion. This necessarily results in the endless conflict between two phenomena's: 1) The fragmentation of society into opposing camps who are battling to gain popular consent, and, 2) The endless necessity to conform to popular demand. These counter pressures alienate the human psyche from all ability to reason and express self-determination. It turns the human into a machine of cynical warfare, engulfed in contempt and hatred for his/her opposition, and suppresses all ability to actualize his/her innate drive towards being creative.

Republic: The stability of a Republic is solely determined upon the nobility and moral character of its leaders. Being that power corrupts even the most noble among us, eventually, as Plato put it, a Republic must necessarily devolve into an Aristocracy, Oligarchy or Democracy. Sooner or later, the rule of "law" is corrupted and distorted to reflect the will of the powerful. Further, the demand of this system to stand upon the goodwill of its noble leaders with high moral character, creates an heir of "Puritanism" within the society, resulting in the endless persecution of "outsiders" and those who are different. Thus, those "sacred" Natural Rights that define the Republic's legitimacy are quickly trampled upon and are replaced with the less than savory Civil Rights determined by those in power. This, in turn, equally alienates the human psyche from any sense of self-determination and freedom from oppression. The "Puritan" aspect of the system also acts as a mechanism of conformity, resulting in the suppression of human creativity.

Monarchy, Oligarchy and Authoritarianism: These three ideologies share much of the same consequences and results. They differ only in first appearances, not much in resulting affects. A Monarchy could theoretically be run by a noble ruler of high moral character, but necessarily must result in the same oppressive measures of an Authoritarian system as the disenfranchised parts of the populace demand more rights to self-determination. The same can be said about an Oligarchy. As the disenfranchised rise up, the Powers To Be come down on their heads with an iron fist in order to stamp out any changes that could threaten their privilege. The human, under these systems, is essentially relegated to being nothing more than a subject and slave to the master's will. The psyche is shattered and encouraged to conform to the corrupt ways that the ruler(s) have put forth, or else they must suffer extreme impoverishment and lack of self-worth.

Anarchism: Being that the health and stability of an Anarchist society is entirely dependent upon the health and stability of the individuals that make up said society, it is difficult to render any definitive general sense of what this society would be like. The few examples throughout history, of intentional Anarchist societies, has largely been positive, though often short lived with few exceptions. (see: Celtic Ireland (650-1650), Icelandic Commonwealth (930 to 1262), Catalonia, Spain (1936 to 1939)...) These societies often fell to outside economic and political pressures. Probably the most common argument made against Anarchist societies is that it essentially results in an "All Against All" situation. On one level, this probably has some potential truth. Then again, it assumes that the human would rather fight than cooperate, kill than negotiate.

Ultimately, as we can see, we have no definitive Utopian solution. The question rests with, being that no system can grant itself the legitimacy of force without alienating, corrupting and abusing a portion of its population, what kind of society is most justifiable and coherent? Is it a society where the majority legitimize the use of force against the minority, where the few legitimize the use of force against the many, or where the use of force cannot be legitimized by anyone at all?

Let's hear some arguments.

edit on 25-8-2013 by LifeIsEnergy because: (no reason given)




posted on Aug, 25 2013 @ 08:29 PM
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To me, the use of force is justified if:

1. You threaten to harm me in any way.

2. If you attempt to harm me in any way.

3. If you threaten to harm someone near me who cannot defend themselves but I can.

4. If you attempt to harm someone near me who cannot defend themselves but I can.

And I would not give any forethought beforehand and my conscience would be clear even if it were a bad day for the aggressor.

Nations are the same. It need only be ethically and morally correct to be justified.



posted on Aug, 25 2013 @ 08:56 PM
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Equalism.

I just made that word up, but that is the only time I think violence should be justified.

Equalism, is a new form of rule where everyone fights to be equal. In fact that is the whole point of the idea of rule.

Basically if you feel someone or something is unequal then you fight against the thing that makes it unequal. Thus, standing for equality.

Bad idea right?

I like your thread it is thought provoking, when would you say violence is justified LifeIsEnergy? Regardless of justification I think force/violence should always be a last of resorts. If the mountain won't come to Mohammed then Mohammed must go to the mountain. Afterall, moving mountains is a extreme use of force isn't it.



posted on Aug, 25 2013 @ 09:53 PM
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reply to post by RAY1990
 


Thank you Ray, I like your idea about equalism, it is the closest thing I can think of to a good philosophy - and O.P, you brought this up at a timely... uh... time.

The worst thing that can happen is having no rules governing the use of force and ending up with a situation like the one about to erupt in the Middle-East,

Where the military is killing civilians in Egypt, and there have been two chemical weapons attacks in Syria, and it is all-out warfare with no rules. In that case, everyone will probably keep on fighting until the whole area has been gassed and nuked and looted -

Losing moral high ground or legitimacy on every side will probably result in complete destruction, or at least a lot of it.

The western world is used to some kind of philosophical rule, called "Truth," to keep as a moral compass.

Without that, I don't think anyone has enough character to survive or work together, the worst case is where "The Truth," which protects those Westerners, leaves behind people who aren't developed enough to deal with the harsh reality, and end up out for themselves until everything is gone.

I'm guessing it looks something like this:





In the East, it is "The Way," which is more advanced, in that it is adaptive.
edit on 25-8-2013 by darkbake because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 25 2013 @ 09:56 PM
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After thousands of years discussing these isues , you haven't understood that corrupted govts does as they like , no matter what frame they choose. They get out of the frame whenever they want to do what they want.
edit on 25-8-2013 by mideast because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 25 2013 @ 10:19 PM
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I say the people take back their Republic. Its been done before. Even if they have to be dragged out

kicking and screaming...




From "Operation Daybreak":




posted on Aug, 25 2013 @ 10:20 PM
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reply to post by RAY1990
 


I'm not sure violence can be justified, not in any universal or objective sense at least. My main concern is with doctrines of legitimacy, where a social contract is put into place to legitimize one persons/peoples use of force over another, while de-legitimizing the secondary peoples ability to use force in return. In this sense, the former is considered "righteous" while the latter is considered "unrighteous" (ie. the noble vs the ignoble, the state vs the terrorist). To me, either the use of force cannot be legitimized for anybody, or violence is legitimate for everybody.

In the case of self-defense, as the previous poster mentioned, I still am not sure that violence can be legitimized in any coherent way. A person will naturally defend themselves, a loved one, or a stranger in need of help, whether or not they have a legitimate, legal or philosophical right to do so. To create a moral framework for violence is to solidify the use of violence within what is often a very fuzzy and subjective perspective of events leading up to that instance.

For instance, the aggressor may himself or herself feel morally virtuous in their actions due to various reasons. The impoverished laborer who stole some food may have already felt he has been robbed by the wealthy businessman who owns all the land. Or, the terrorist may have previously felt terrorized and victimized by those who are now his victims. When the conflict started may be entirely dependent on ones perspective. So, to me, neither side's use of violence can be legitimized, and to do so is to corrupt any notion of morality or ethics.
edit on 25-8-2013 by LifeIsEnergy because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 25 2013 @ 10:24 PM
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reply to post by mideast
 


Which is why I am more of a proponent of Anarchism than any other ideology. Why empower a person or people to rule over you when history has shown, over and over again, that with power comes corruption?



posted on Aug, 25 2013 @ 10:29 PM
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reply to post by darkbake
 


But who is to decide, if it is not yourself, what is "Truth"? Is it the "noble" and "virtuous" ruler(s)? (ie. Republic) Is it the popular consensus? (ie. Democracy) Is it a body of accredited scientists? (ie. Zeitgeist RBE) Is it you? (ie. Anarchism)



posted on Aug, 25 2013 @ 10:32 PM
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reply to post by RAY1990
 


"Equalism" is essentially Liberalism without a Democracy, it sounds like. Being that absolute equality is impossible, and that there would be people who sought to increase inequality for their own benefit, wouldn't that mean we remain in a constant state of war?



posted on Aug, 25 2013 @ 10:32 PM
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personally, i feel the use of physical force to harm another being is never justified.. if a man pulls a gun on you, don't shoot him, ask him why.. he wont be expecting that, possibly he hadn't even considered it..

all situations can be resolved without the use of violence, and violently aggressive self-defense is an oxymoron..

if you are considering the force of law to control a person, you have to consider not only the protection of everyone else, but also the affect this force will have on the person being controlled.. using law to justify taking away a person's freedom to live in their own house for instance, (imprisonment), will prevent them harming society again, but will it prevent the reason they have for causing harm in the first place? of course not.. the harm is not removed, only repositioned; the convict will harm others in prison because that is how (s)he decides to deal with whatever thoughts they might be having..


Originally posted by mideast
After thousands of years discussing these isues , you haven't understood that corrupted govts does as they like , no matter what frame they choose. They get out of the frame whenever they want to do what they want.


everybody is corruptible to some degree, but what if a government as a whole did intend to help and protect as many people as it could? governments often have to do things as they don't like, because people misunderstand them.. the behaviour of a government representative is a reflection of that individual's character, not the government as a whole..

some governments ignore the some of the wishes of the people, but most do listen and try to understand the people they are charged with governing.. whether you agree with the government or not, it is a necessary tool humanity must use to mediate itself, without a government of any kind, no country can legitimately exist..

i live in a british democracy, (american democracy evolved from this), it has its shortcomings, but i must admit i prefer it to most other options out there.. i don't think enough credit is given to the intelligence and intention of governments, it's easy to write them off as corrupt, power hungry organisations that seek total control of humanity, but there is more to it than that..



government doesn't have to be big, nor particularly powerful to be effective, it simply has to be rational.. the problem with current forms of centralised government as i see it is that they try to do too much.. they don't have the power to change minds, or even educate them, because they wont allow themselves to be educated..

also, the empahsis of "profit", the turning of basic human needs and inalienable rights into commodities to be traded, like food, water, shelter, gives an unjustifiable level of power over people, to people who have made more profit.. this is completely wrong.. some things should be free and guaranteed by government regardless of "monetary cost"..



posted on Aug, 25 2013 @ 10:42 PM
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reply to post by tachyonmind
 


Well said... but doesn't the first part of your post completely contradict the second part? If the use of violence can never be legitimized or justified, than how can any government legitimately exist in your world? After all, a government is simply any agency with a monopoly on force. Without a monopoly on force there could be no such thing as a government. So how do you rectify your absolute passivity with the belief that government is legitimate, even essential?



posted on Aug, 25 2013 @ 10:54 PM
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reply to post by LifeIsEnergy
 


An easier question to answer is "When is the use of force not justifiable?". The answer to that question would be: Whenever your force is causing you to have negative consequences.



posted on Aug, 26 2013 @ 12:10 AM
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reply to post by LifeIsEnergy
 


On when and how is the use of force justified—

One should not be where that force begins, nor where it ends, but should serve to guide it in the proper direction. Therefore force isn't used, but manipulated, and may be sent back to where it came from.



posted on Aug, 26 2013 @ 01:05 AM
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Originally posted by LifeIsEnergy
reply to post by tachyonmind
 


Well said... but doesn't the first part of your post completely contradict the second part? If the use of violence can never be legitimized or justified, than how can any government legitimately exist in your world? After all, a government is simply any agency with a monopoly on force. Without a monopoly on force there could be no such thing as a government. So how do you rectify your absolute passivity with the belief that government is legitimate, even essential?


i meant legitimate in the legal sense.. as in, "legally empowered to use force"..


le·git·i·mate /liˈjitəmit/

Adjective
Conforming to the law or to rules: "his claims to legitimate authority".

Verb
Justify or make lawful.


without being too specific.. the combined forces of the people of a nation generate the extent of the force of its government.. without a people to govern, the government has no force, and without a direction to the unified force of the nation, there is no government.. its a ying/yang kind of thing..
edit on 26-8-2013 by tachyonmind because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 26 2013 @ 02:18 AM
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Originally posted by LifeIsEnergy
reply to post by RAY1990
 


But who is to decide, if it is not yourself, what is "Truth"? Is it the "noble" and "virtuous" ruler(s)? (ie. Republic) Is it the popular consensus? (ie. Democracy) Is it a body of accredited scientists? (ie. Zeitgeist RBE) Is it you? (ie. Anarchism)

"Equalism" is essentially Liberalism without a Democracy, it sounds like. Being that absolute equality is impossible, and that there would be people who sought to increase inequality for their own benefit, wouldn't that mean we remain in a constant state of war?


I think this is essentially a very non-biased summation of a lot of issues we are facing at the moment. I don't think I mentioned it, but great O.P., that was clearly well-researched.

Well... If we take the situation in Syria, I think that the best course of action would be to collect as much accurate information as possible and then intervene in an efficient manner in order to restore order to the region and also, work with Russia instead of against them, in order to get a more rounded perspective of the situation.

After everything is discovered, it would be beneficial to hold peace talks where everyone's perspectives are taken into account - even their selfish ones should come out on the table so that things can be re-arranged in a positive manner and issues resolved.

Sometimes, a situation like this might definitely take an arbiter. I am a proponent of training arbiters to be non-biased and follow a certain code of ethics that allows them to approach a situation without attachment to it and find the best solutions for everyone.

I mean, I'm thinking like some kind of setup where arbiters are trained and culturally isolated with other arbiters in a place where they can explore their hobbies and interests but have to be trained in the ethics of non-biased arbitration, accurate information gathering and situation assessment as well as positive problem solving.

It is kind of silly to have people run the peace talks who have a personal or vested interest in the outcome. It would be prudent to have someone who gets paid precisely for producing a quality outcome do that.
edit on 26-8-2013 by darkbake because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 26 2013 @ 02:48 AM
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reply to post by LifeIsEnergy
 


That is an interesting point, and quite credible. On other topics, I'd like to add that liberal atheists might be terrible people to send into the Middle-East for peace talks, because regardless of whether or not God exists, which is irrelevant anyway due to it automatically not being the case with multiple monotheistic religions,

Unless we are living in a polytheistic society,

Someone needs to be able to go in there who understands how religion and culture work, regardless of deities.

As a matter of fact, dissolving the monotheism from monotheistic religions and getting people to understand we are, in fact, polytheistic would solve like literally tons of problems.

So polytheism would help?
edit on 26-8-2013 by darkbake because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 26 2013 @ 02:57 AM
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Originally posted by darkbake
reply to post by LifeIsEnergy
 


That is an interesting point, and quite credible. On other topics, I'd like to add that liberal atheists might be terrible people to send into the Middle-East for peace talks, because regardless of whether or not God exists, which is irrelevant anyway due to it automatically not being the case with multiple monotheistic religions,

Unless we are living in a polytheistic society,

Someone needs to be able to go in there who understands how religion and culture work, regardless of deities.

As a matter of fact, dissolving the monotheism from monotheistic religions and getting people to understand we are, in fact, polytheistic would solve like literally tons of problems.

So polytheism is the way to go.
edit on 26-8-2013 by darkbake because: (no reason given)


i hope you don't mind if i reply to your reply to someone else, but i completely agree with this being the one most important issue we need to resolve.. monotheism does not contradict polytheism, nor vice versa, the two are compatible if they could just decide on a shared definition of what a God(s) is/are..

God in monotheism is one perfect whole, in polytheism this whole is divided into individual "personalities".. it doesn't take a phd in obviousology to see that there is no conflict between them.. and yet, supposed "professors of theology" can't make the reconciliation.. *shrug*
edit on 26-8-2013 by tachyonmind because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 26 2013 @ 02:59 AM
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reply to post by tachyonmind
 


Wow thanks, I am surprised you get what I am saying, I hardly meet anyone who can get over both the atheist's stance that "God doesn't exist" (which is irrelevant) and the monotheist's stance that theirs is the only God (when there are tons of Gods). I'm sure on ATS it is much more likely, but most of the time that can come out of left field for people, although it might make sense after hearing it.
edit on 26-8-2013 by darkbake because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 26 2013 @ 03:05 AM
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Originally posted by darkbake
reply to post by tachyonmind
 


Wow thanks, I am surprised you get what I am saying, I hardly meet anyone who can get over both the atheist's stance that "God doesn't exist" (which is irrelevant) and the monotheist's stance that theirs is the only God (when there are tons of Gods). I'm sure on ATS it is much more likely, but most of the time that can come out of left field for people.
edit on 26-8-2013 by darkbake because: (no reason given)


heh, i get that a lot bro =)

personally i am atheist, which does not mean i do not believe in God.. figure that one out =P

"In fact, "atheism" is a term that should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify himself as a "non-astrologer" or a "non-alchemist." We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and their cattle. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs"

-sam harris

edit on 26-8-2013 by tachyonmind because: (no reason given)





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