When is War Justified?
Upon contemplation of the meaning and etymology of “justify” — to prove or show to be just — it would seem that something must initially be unjust as a requisite of “justify.” Of course, that is only one definition and etymological path among many. For that reason, there will be a difference in perspective regarding the idea communicated. These differences of perspective are the root of war and most conflicts. It is for that reason that war is never justified.
As an experiment, I analyzed each word of “When is war justified?”, and the probability of an interpretation by the recipient being the same as the sender was computed. I found that only one interpretation among more than 6240 possible interpretations is received with the same meaning with which it is sent. The computations were:
8 listed meanings for "when"
* 13 listed meanings for "be"
* 10 listed meanings for "war"
* 6 listed meanings for "justify"
= 6240 meanings for "When is war justified?"
I emphasize “listed” because there are countless definitions that cannot be put into words or are not included in a dictionary.
The possible meanings may be even greater if the experiences of individual people are taken into account. According to Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, “What matters is in the connections. It isn’t the letters, it’s the way they’re strung together into words. It isn’t the words, it’s the way they’re strung together into phrases. It isn’t the phrases, it’s the way they’re strung together into documents.” This would mean that the more one experiences and the more prior knowledge one has, the more accurately one understands the intent of the message sender.
My thesis is slightly misleading. War is only justified if the recipient accurately received the message of the sender. However, this can never happen because the feedback to a message may, in turn, be misunderstood which just compounds the problem. For example, if I nod, it may be because I do not understand. However, in America, this will be interpreted as understanding.
The statement that there are no guarantees in life is true—only if I understand it in the way its sender intended. You cannot be guaranteed that I understood your essay question completely. I cannot be guaranteed that you will understand my essay in return. Nobody can ever be guaranteed that the recipient of a message is received with 100% accuracy. Therefore, I cannot make war in any form on somebody because they might not understand what I have asked them to do.