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Encyclopedia > Philosophy of war

The Philosophy of war examines war beyond the typical questions of weaponry and strategy, inquiring into the meaning and etiology of war, what war means for humanity and human nature as well as the ethics of war. Certain portions of the philosophy of war overlap with Philosophy of history, Political Philosophy and Philosophy of law. War is an excellent way of political leaders to let off some steam. ... A weapon is a tool used to kill or incapacitate a person or animal, or destroy a military target. ... A strategy is a long term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal, as differentiated from tactics or immediate actions with resources at hand. ... Etiology (alternately aetiology, aitiology) is the study of causation. ... Ethics (from the Ancient Greek ethikos, meaning arising from habit), a major branch of philosophy, is the study of value or quality. ... Philosophy of History is an area of philosophy concerning the eventual significance, if any, of human history, and speculation as to a possible teleological end to its development. ... Political philosophy is the study of fundamental questions about the state, government, politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why (or even if) they are needed, what makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect and... Philosophy of law is a branch of philosophy and jurisprudence which studies basic questions about law and legal systems, such as what is the law?, what are the criteria for legal validity?, what is the relationship between law and morality?, and many other similar questions. ...

Contents

Great works in the Philosophy of war

Carl von Clausewitz, painting by Karl Wilhelm Wach.
Carl von Clausewitz, painting by Karl Wilhelm Wach.

Perhaps the greatest and most influential work in the philosophy of war is On War by Carl von Clausewitz. It combines observations on strategy with questions about human nature and the purpose of war. Clausewitz especially examines the teleology of war: whether war is a means to an end outside itself or whether it can be an end in itself. He concludes that the latter cannot be so, and that war is "politics by different means"; i.e. that war must not exist only for its own sake but must serve some purpose for the state. Image File history File links Clausewitz. ... Image File history File links Clausewitz. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... On War (Ger. ... A young Clausewitz Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz (June 1, 1780 – November 16, 1831) was a Prussian general and influential military theorist. ... Human nature is the fundamental nature and substance of humans, as well as the range of human behavior that is believed to be invariant over long periods of time and across very different cultural contexts. ... Teleology (telos: end, purpose) is the philosophical study of design, purpose, directive principle, or finality in nature or human creations. ... Politics is the process by which individuals or relatively small groups attempt to exert influence over the actions of an organization. ...


Leo Tolstoy's novel War and Peace contains frequent philosophical digressions on the philosophy of war (and broader metaphysical assertions derived from Christianity and from Tolstoy's observations of the Napoleonic Wars), and was very influential on later thought about war, especially ideas of nonviolent resistance. Tolstoy's Christian philosophy of war (especially his essays "A Letter to a Hindu" and "The Kingdom of God is Within You") was a direct influence on Gandhi's Hinduism-based non-violent resistance philosophy. Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (Russian: , Lev Nikolaevič Tolstoj), commonly referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy (September 9, 1828 [O.S. August 28] – November 20, 1910 [O.S. November 7]) was a Russian novelist, writer, essayist, philosopher, Christian anarchist, pacifist, educational reformer, vegetarian, moral thinker and an influential member of... War and Peace (Russian: Война и мир, Vojna i mir; in original orthography: Война и миръ, Vojna i mir) is an epic novel by Leo Tolstoy, first published from 1865 to 1869 in Russki Vestnik, which tells the story of Russian society during the Napoleonic Era. ... Plato and Aristotle (right), by Raphael (Stanza della Segnatura, Rome). ... This article is becoming very long. ... Combatants Allies: Austria[1] Ottoman Empire Portugal Prussia[1] Russia[2] Spain[3] Sweden United Kingdom[4] French Empire Denmark-Norway Holland Kingdom of Italy Kingdom of Naples Duchy of Warsaw Confederation of the Rhine: Bavaria Saxony Commanders Mikhail Kutuzov, Michael Andreas Barclay Count Wittgenstein Count Bennigsen Duke of Wellington... Letter to a Hindu was a letter written by Count Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy in 1908 to an Indian Newspaper which sparked a relationship between the pacifist and another well-known anti-violence father figure, Mohandas Gandhi who was stationed in South Africa at the time and just beginning his life... The 1st English edition of The Kingdom of God is Within You, 1894 The Kingdom of God is Within You is a non-fiction work written by Leo Tolstoy and was first published in Germany in 1894, after being banned in his home country of Russia. ... Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948) (Devanagari: मोहनदास करमचन्द गांधी, Gujarati મોહનદાસ કરમચંદ ગાંધી), called... Hinduism (Sanskrit: , , also known as , ) is a religion that originated on the Indian subcontinent. ... Nonviolent resistance (or nonviolent action) is the practice of applying power to achieve socio-political goals through symbolic protests, economic or political noncooperation, civil disobedience and other methods, without the use of physical violence. ...


Niccolò Machiavelli wrote a book titled The Art of War, however its focus is mostly on weaponry and strategy instead of philosophy. However, sections of his masterpiece The Prince discuss war from a philosophical point of view. Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (May 3, 1469 – June 21, 1527) was a political philosopher, musician, poet, and romantic comedic playwright. ... The Art of War (Dellarte della guerra), is one of the lesser- read works of Florentine statesman and political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli. ... Il Principe (The Prince) is a political treatise by the Florentine public servant and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli. ...


Traditions of thought

Since the philosophy of war is usually treated as a subset of another branch of philosophy (such as political philosophy or the philosophy of law) it would be difficult to define any clear schools of thought in the same sense that, e.g., Existentialism or Objectivism can be clearly distinguished. According to the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Carl von Clausewitz is "the only (so-called) philosopher of war", in that, he is the only (major) philosophical writer who develops a philosophical system focusing exclusively on war. However, traditions of thought on war have become clearly defined enough that some writers have been able to distinguish between broad schools of though under which certain philosophers can be categorized. Below are two prominent examples. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...


Teleological categories

According to Anatol Rapoport's introduction to his edition of the J. J. Graham translation of Clausewitz's On War, there are three main traditions of thought in the philosophy of war: the cataclysmic, the eschatological, and the political. (On War, Rapoport's introduction, 13) He divides these, for the most part, according to teleology, that is, according to what each school of thought thinks is the end, goal, or purpose of war. These are, of course, not the only possible philosophies of war, but only three of the most common. As Rapoport says, Anatol Rapoport (born May 22, 1911) is a Russian-born American Jewish, mathematical psychologist. ... Look up translate in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

To put it metaphorically, in political philosophy war is compared to a game of strategy (like chess); in eschatological philosophy, to a mission or the dénouement of a drama; in cataclysmic philosophy, to a fire or an epidemic.
These do not, of course, exhaust the views of war prevailing at different times and at different places. For example, war has at times been viewed as a pastime or an adventure, as the only proper occupation for a nobleman, as an affair of honor (for example, the days of chivalry), as a ceremony (e.g. among the Aztecs), as an outlet of aggressive instincts or a manifestation of a "death wish", as nature's way of ensuring the survival of the fittest, as an absurdity (e.g. among Eskimos), as a tenacious custom, destined to die out like slavery, and as a crime. (On War, Rapoport's introduction, 17)
  • The Cataclysmic school of thought, which was espoused by Leo Tolstoy in his epic novel War and Peace, sees war as a bane on humanity--whether avoidable or inevitable--which serves little purpose outside of causing destruction and suffering, and which may cause drastic change to society, but not in any teleological sense. Tolstoy's view may be placed under the subcategory of global cataclysmic philosophy of war. Another subcategory of the cataclysmic school of thought is the ethnocentric cataclysmic, in which this view is focused specifically on the plight of a specific ethnicity or nation, for example the view in Judaism of war as a punishment from God on the Israelites in certain books of the Tenakh (Old Testament). As the Tenakh (in certain books) sees war as an ineluctable act of God, so Tolstoy especially emphasizes war as something that befalls man and is in no way under the influence of man's "free will", but is instead the result of irresistible global forces. (On War, Rapoport's introduction 16)
  • The Eschatological school of thought sees all wars (or all major wars) as leading to some goal, and asserts that some final conflict will someday resolve the path followed by all wars and result in a massive upheaval of society and a subsequent new society free from war (in varying theories the resulting society may be either a utopia or a dystopia). There are two subsets of this view: the Messianic and the Global theory. The Marxist concept of a communist world ruled by the proletariat after a final worldwide revolution is an example of the global theory, and the Christian concept of an Armageddon war which will usher in the second coming of Christ and the final defeat of Satan is an example of a theory that could fall under Global or Messianic. (On War, Rapoport's introduction, 15) The messianic eschatological philosophy is derived from the Jewish-Christian concept of a Messiah, and sees wars as culminating in unification of humanity under a single faith or a single ruler. Crusades, Jihads, the Nazi concept of a Master Race and the 19th century American concept of Manifest Destiny may also fall under this heading. (On War, Rapoport's introduction, 15) (See main articles for more information: Christian eschatology, Jewish eschatology)
  • The Political school of thought, of which Clausewitz was a proponent, sees war as a tool of the state. On page 13 Rapoport says,
Clausewitz views war as a rational instrument of national policy. The three words "rational", "instrument" and "national" are the key concepts of his paradigm. In this view, the decision to wage war "ought" to be rational, in the sense that it ought to be based on estimated costs and gains of war. Next, war "ought" to be instrumental, in the sense that it ought to be waged in order to achieve some goal, never for its own sake; and also in the sense that strategy and tactics ought to be directed towards just one end, namely towards victory. Finally, war "ought" to be national, in the sense that its objective should be to advance the interests of a national state and that the entire effort of the nation ought to be mobilized in the service of the military objective.
He later characterizes the philosophy behind the Vietnam War and other Cold War conflicts as "Neo-Clausewitzian". Rapoport also includes Machiavelli as an early example of the political philosophy of war (On War, Rapoport's introduction, 13). Decades after his essay, the War on Terrorism and the Iraq War begun by the United States under President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003 have often been justified under the doctrine of preemption, a political motivation stating that the United States must use war to prevent further attacks such as the September 11, 2001 attacks.

In language, a metaphor (from the Greek: metapherin rhetorical trope) is defined as a direct comparison between two or more seemingly unrelated subjects. ... Chess is an abstract strategy board game and mental sport for two players. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Just-lit match Fire is a self-sustaining oxidation process accompanied by heat and light in the form of a glow or flames. ... In epidemiology, an epidemic (from Greek epi- upon + demos people) is a disease that appears as new cases in a given human population, during a given period, at a rate that substantially exceeds what is expected, based on recent experience (the number of new cases in the population during a... Look up adventure in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The Lords and Barons prove their Nobility by hanging their Banners and exposing their Coats-of-arms at the Windows of the Lodge of the Heralds. ... Honor (or honor) comprises the reputation, self-perception or moral identity of an individual or of a group. ... Woman under the Safeguard of Knighthood, allegorical Scene. ... This refers to the act performed on a special occasion. ... The word Aztec is usually used as a historical term, although some contemporary Nahuatl speakers would consider themselves Aztecs. ... The suckling of a newborn at its mothers nipple is an example of an instinctive behavior. ... This article is about a series of films. ... Galunggung in 1982, showing a combination of natural events. ... Herbert Spencer coined the phrase survival of the fittest Survival of the fittest is a phrase which is a shorthand for a concept relating to competition for survival or predominance. ... Disambiguation: Theatre of the Absurd In Philosophy, The Absurd refers to humans who continue to live their lives, despite knowledge that their lives are utterly pointless. ... Inuit (ᐃᓄᐃᑦ, singular Inuk or Inuq / ᐃᓄᒃ) is a general term for a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples of the Arctic who descended from the Thule. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (Russian: , Lev Nikolaevič Tolstoj), commonly referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy (September 9, 1828 [O.S. August 28] – November 20, 1910 [O.S. November 7]) was a Russian novelist, writer, essayist, philosopher, Christian anarchist, pacifist, educational reformer, vegetarian, moral thinker and an influential member of... War and Peace (Russian: Война и мир, Vojna i mir; in original orthography: Война и миръ, Vojna i mir) is an epic novel by Leo Tolstoy, first published from 1865 to 1869 in Russki Vestnik, which tells the story of Russian society during the Napoleonic Era. ... Human relationships within an ethnically diverse society. ... The adjective global and adverb globally imply that the verb or noun to which they are applied applies to the entire Earth and all of its species and regions. ... Ethnocentrism (Greek ethnos nation + -centrism) is a set of beliefs or practices based on the view that ones own group is the center of everything. ... This article or section should be merged with ethnic group Ethnicity is the cultural characteristics that connect a particular group or groups of people to each other. ... One of the most influential doctrines in history is that all humans are divided into groups called nations. ... Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people. ... Look up Punishment in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... This article discusses the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ... An Israelite is a member of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, descended from the twelve sons of the Biblical patriarch Jacob who was renamed Israel by God in the book of Genesis, 32:28 The Israelites were a group of Hebrews, as described in the Bible. ... 11th century Targum Tanakh [תנ״ך] (also spelt Tanach or Tenach) is an acronym for the three parts of the Hebrew Bible, based upon the initial Hebrew letters of each part: Torah [תורה] (The Law; also: Teaching or Instruction), Chumash [חומש] (The... Note: Judaism commonly uses the term Tanakh. ... Free will is the philosophical doctrine that holds that our choices are ultimately up to ourselves. ... The adjective global and adverb globally imply that the verb or noun to which they are applied applies to the entire Earth and all of its species and regions. ... Left panel (The Earthly Paradise, Garden of Eden), from Hieronymus Boschs The Garden of Earthly Delights. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Marxism is the political practice and social theory based on the works of Karl Marx, a 19th century philosopher, economist, journalist, and revolutionary, along with Friedrich Engels. ... This article is about communism as a form of society and as a political movement. ... The proletariat (from Latin proles, offspring) is a term used to identify a lower social class; a member of such a class is proletarian. ... It has been suggested that Revolutionary be merged into this article or section. ... A Christian is a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, referred to as the Christ. ... Look up Armageddon in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The Second Coming or Second Advent refers to the Christian belief in the return of Jesus Christ to fulfill the rest of the Messianic prophecy, such as the Resurrection of the dead, Last judgement and establishment of the Kingdom of God. ... This page is about the title or the Divine Person. For the Christian figure, see Jesus. ... Gustave Dorés depiction of Satan from John Miltons Paradise Lost Satan, from the Hebrew word for accuser (Standard Hebrew: , Satan Tiberian Hebrew ; Koine Greek: , Satanás; Aramaic: , ; Arabic: , , Geez: Sāyṭān), is a term with its origins in the Abrahamic faiths which is traditionally applied to... The MIAs logo. ... In Judaism, the Messiah (מָשִׁיחַ Standard Hebrew Arabic: Al-Masih, المسيح), Tiberian Hebrew , Aramaic ) initially meant any person who was anointed by a prophet of God. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The Crusades were a series of military campaigns conducted in the name of Christendom[1] and usually sanctioned by the Pope. ... Jihad, sometimes spelled Jahad, Jehad, Jihaad, Jiaad, Djehad, Jawwad, or Cihad, (Arabic: ‎ ) is an Islamic term, meaning to strive or struggle in the way of God, and is sometimes referred to as the sixth pillar of Islam, although it has no official status. ... National Socialism redirects here. ... The master race (German: Herrenrasse, ) is a concept in Nazi ideology, which holds that the Germanic and Nordic people represent an ideal and pure race.The pure race is generally pictured as a person with blonde hair and blue eyes in this concept. ... This painting (circa 1872) by John Gast called American Progress is an allegorical representation of Manifest Destiny. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... 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Combatants Republic of Vietnam United States Republic of Korea Thailand Australia New Zealand The Philippines National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam Democratic Republic of Vietnam People’s Republic of China Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea Strength US 1,000,000 South Korea 300,000 Australia 48,000... For other uses, please see Cold War (disambiguation). ... Combatants Participants in Operations: United States United Kingdom Turkey South Korea Canada Israel Spain Portugal Pakistan Afghanistan Australia New Zealand Italy Netherlands Denmark France Germany Norway Slovakia Romania Philippines Poland Ukraine Georgia Jordan Saudi Arabia NATO New Iraqi Army and others Targets of Operations: al-Qaeda Taliban Baathist Iraq... For other uses of the term, see Iraq war (disambiguation) The 2003 invasion of Iraq (also called the 2nd or 3rd Persian Gulf War) began on March 20, 2003, when forces belonging primarily to the United States and the United Kingdom invaded Iraq arguably without the explicit backing of the... George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is an American politician and the 43rd and current President of the United States. ... 2001: A Space Odyssey. ... 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... A preëmptive attack (or preëmptive war) is waged in an attempt to repel or defeat an imminent offensive or invasion, or to gain a strategic advantage in an impending (usually unavoidable) war. ... The World Trade Center on fire The September 11, 2001 attacks were a series of coordinated terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001. ...

Ethical categories

Another possible system for categorizing different schools of thought on war can be found in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (see external links, below), based on ethics. The SEP describes three major divisions in the ethics of war: the Realist, the Pacifist, and the Just War Theory. In a nutshell: Ethics (from the Ancient Greek ethikos, meaning arising from habit), a major branch of philosophy, is the study of value or quality. ...

  • Realists will typically hold that systems of morals and ethics which guide individuals within societies cannot realistically be applied to societies as a whole to govern the way they, qua societies, interact with other societies. Hence, a state's purposes in war is simply to preserve its national interest. This kind of thinking is similar to Machiavelli's philosophy, and Thucydides and Hobbes may also fall under this category.
  • Pacifists, however, maintain that a moral evaluation of war is possible, and that war is always found to be immoral. Gandhi and Tolstoy were both famous advocates of pacifistic nonviolent resistance methods instead of war.
  • Just War Theory, along with pacifism, holds that morals do apply to war. However, unlike pacifism, according to Just War Theory it is possible for a war to be morally justified. The concept of a morally justified war underlies much of the concept International Law, such as the Geneva Conventions. Aristotle, Cicero, Augustine, Aquinas, and Hugo Grotius are among the philosophers who have espoused some form of a just war philosophy.

Morality is a complex of principles based on cultural, religious, and philosophical concepts and beliefs, by which an individual determines whether his or her actions are right or wrong. ... Bust of Thucydides residing in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. ... This article is about the philosopher Thomas Hobbes. ... International law (also called public international law to distinguish from private international law, i. ... Development of the Geneva Conventions from 1864 to 1949. ... Aristotle (Greek: AristotélÄ“s) (384 BCE – March 7, 322 BCE) was an ancient Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. ... Cicero at about age 60, from an ancient marble bust Marcus Tullius Cicero (IPA: ; Classical pronunciation:  ; January 3, 106 BC – December 7, 43 BC) was an orator, statesman, political theorist, lawyer and philosopher of Ancient Rome. ... For the first Archbishop of Canterbury, see Saint Augustine of Canterbury. ... Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225 - March 7, 1274) was a Catholic philosopher and theologian in the scholastic tradition, who gave birth to the Thomistic school of philosophy, which was long the primary philosophical approach of the Roman Catholic Church. ... Hugo Grotius Hugo Grotius (Huig de Groot, or Hugo de Groot; Delft, 10th April 1583 - Rostock, 28th August 1645) worked as a jurist in the United Provinces (now the Netherlands) and laid the foundations for international law, based on natural law. ...

References

  • Clausewitz, Carl von, On War. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1968. J. J. Graham translation, 1908. Anatol Rapoport, editor. Introduction and notes (c) Anatol Rapoport, 1968.

Additional Reading

  • Chanakya, Arthashastra [1], especially Book X "Relating to War" (Discusses war along with philosophical/religious observations about sacrifice derived from Vedic scripture)
  • Heindel, Max, The Rosicrucian Philosophy in Questions and Answers - Volume II (The Philosophy of War, World War I reference, ed. 1918), ISBN 0-911274-90-1 (Describing a philosophy of war from the point of view of Rosicrucian beliefs)

Allegiance: Magadhan Empire Rank: Prime Minister Place of birth: Pataliputra, India Chanakya (c. ... The Arthashastra (more precisely Arthaśāstra) is a treatise on statecraft and economic policy which identifies its author by the names Kauá¹­ilya[1] and Viṣṇugupta,[2] who are traditionally identified with the Mauryan minister Cāṇakya. ... Marcus Aurelius and members of the Imperial family offer sacrifice in gratitude for success against Germanic tribes: contemporary bas-relief, Capitoline Museum, Rome Sacrifice (from a Middle English verb meaning to make sacred, from Old French, from Latin sacrificium : sacer, sacred; sacred + facere, to make) is commonly known as the... The Vedas (Sanskrit: वेद) are the main scriptural texts of Hinduism, also known as the Sanatana Dharma, and are a large corpus of texts originating in Ancient India. ... Max Heindel (1865-1919) Max Heindel - born Carl Louis von Grasshoff in Aarhus, Denmark on July 23, 1865 - was a Christian occultist, astrologer, and mystic. ... The Temple of the Rose Cross, Teophilus Schweighardt Constantiens, 1618. ... Lew Rockwell Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. ... Determinism is the philosophical proposition that every event, including human cognition and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. ...

See also

Antimilitarism is a doctrine commonly found in the anarchist and socialist movement, which may be both characterized as internationalist movements. ... Just war is a specific concept of how warfare might be justified, typically in accordance with a particular situation, or scenario, and expanded or supported by reference to doctrine, politics, tradition, or historical commentary. ... Just War theory is the attempt to distinguish between justifiable and unjustifiable uses of organized armed forces. ... Militarism or militarist ideology is the doctrinal view of a society as being best served (or more efficient) when it is governed or guided by concepts embodied in the culture, doctrine, system, or people of the military. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... War is an excellent way of political leaders to let off some steam. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
The Philosophy of War [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy] (3858 words)
Many who explain war's origins in man's abandonment of reason also derive their thoughts from Plato, who argues that "wars and revolutions and battles are due simply and solely to the body and its desires." That is, man's appetite sometimes or perpetually overwhelms his reasoning capacity, which results in moral and political degeneration.
Just war theory begins with an assessment of the moral and political criteria for justifying the initiation of war (defensive or aggressive), but critics note that the justice of warfare is already presumed in just war theory: all that is being outlined are the legal, political, and moral criteria for its justice.
The nature of the philosophy of war is complex and this article has sought to establish a broad vision of its landscape and the connections that are endemic to any philosophical analysis of the topic.
Just War Theory [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy] (3893 words)
What has been of great interest is that in the headline wars of the past decade, the dynamic interplay of the rules and conventions of warfare not only remain intact on the battlefield but their role and hence their explication have been awarded a higher level of scrutiny and debate.
In such cases, the ethic of war is considered, or is implicitly held to be, beyond the norms of peaceful ethics and therefore deserving a separate moral realm where "fair is foul and foul is fair" (Shakespeare, Macbeth I.i).
In waging war it is considered unfair and unjust to attack indiscriminately since non-combatants or innocents are deemed to stand outside the field of war proper.
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