Is Preemptive Warfare Morally Justified?

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Theodore Roosevelt profoundly stated, “When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck to crush him.” This is the main idea of preemptive warfare. Gray stated that pre-emptive warfare means to strike first in the face of an attack that is either already underway (2007). Simply stated, he exclaimed that it is “the option of shooting on suspicion” (p. 6). If a country is aware that another nation or group is going to attack them, the theory of preemptive war states that it is not only strategic, but also ethically moral, to attack the enemy before they attack you. Because the free will of humankind disrupts our world, we must ask this question: Is preemptive warfare morally justified? This topic will be analyzed by looking that four different ethical systems. First, we will be analyzing Utilitarianism and the Christian worldview, which suppose that preemptive warfare is morally justified. Second, we will examine Cultural Relativism and Kantian ethics, which are two systems that don’t fully support or negate that preemptive warfare is morally justified.
The first ethical system that will be studied is Utilitarianism. Wilkens (2011) shares that the goal of Utilitarianism is to promote the greatest happiness for the greatest amount of people. Utilitarianism can be divided up as either quantitative or qualitative. In regard to preemptive warfare, we will analyze the quantitative approach. Wilkens explains that quantitative Utilitarianism can be

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