Athenian Viewpoints Of Pacifism And Just War Theory

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Assess the Athenians’ argument and actions from the standpoint of pacifism and just war theory. Which position do you find most compelling, and why?

Just War theory portrays a practical look at the morality of war in comparison to pacifism, allowing the opportunity to form international procedures and protocol in an attempt to control conflict. During The Peloponnesian War the Athenians offered a valid and in-depth argument on their views of justice in war, over time this has developed into many different perspectives on the place of war in international politics, most noticeably pacifism and just war theory. Pacifism follows the standpoint that all forms of war-making, under every circumstance, is both illegitimate and unjust. While a Just
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This concept can be split into two main types, Personal/Prophetic Pacifism and Political Pacifism. The former refers, in essence, to a complete intolerance to all forms of killing, while the later discusses opposition to all war (Ryan, 2013). Political pacifism is the more relevant argument, and will therefore be the only one discussed and will from now on be referred to as just ‘pacifism’. Pacifism’s first major stance is that all war is unjust, and in no situation can be fully controlled; war cannot avoid violation of human rights (Ryan, 2013). The second stance is that it does not focus on the practice of violence and killing, but rather the illegitimacy of war making. Pacifists believe that focus should be on programs and institutions that allow for the avoidance of war and the ability to peacefully resolve conflicts (Ryan, 2015). Therefore from the perspective of a Pacifist the Athenian’s argument is immediately written off. A Pacifist would strongly argue that under no condition were Athens to inflict themselves upon the Melians as the act, in itself, is considered ‘war making’. Only brief attempts at peace building was made during the Melian Dialogue as the Athenians offer the Melians the chance to submit without direct conflict; “…you will not think it dishonourable to submit to the greatest city in Hellas, when it makes you the moderate offer of becoming its tributary ally, without ceasing to enjoy the country that belongs to you; nor when you have the choice given you between war and security, will you be so blinded as to choose the worse.”(Thucydides, Warner, & Finley, 1972, Chapter XVII). Whether there was to be war or not was irrelevant to the Athenians as Melos held no form (or very limited) of military and political power (Ahrensdorf, 1997). It is difficult to relay the points of pacifism onto

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