Is violence ever justified?


YES: Violence can be justified on a variety of grounds when it is used to proactively facilitate human well-being and societal progress.


  1. Violence may justifiable when used by the state against individuals verified as threats to national security as their actions may compromise or endanger the lives of many innocent citizens

  2. The state may exercise its legal right to carry out acts of violence or retribution against criminals found guilty of particularly heinous crimes, thereby reaffirming its power to seek justice for victims of crime.

  3. Victims of crimes or their families may also have moral justification to obtain punitive pleasure or at least closure from seeing their victimizers undergo violent and severe punishments sanctioned by the courts and legal system.

  4. The breakdown of political stability and order in some countries may compel communities or individuals to override concerns of legality in favor of their moral right to safeguard their lives and property through the use of armed violence.


NO: Violence is seldom or never justified as it often aggravates existing challenges or creates new ones, thereby undermining human well-being and societal progress at all levels. 

  1. Violence committed by the state, even against confirmed national security threats or in conflict situations, is at best a blunt instrument and is largely unjustifiable as it escalates rather than diffuses the underlying causes of the problem.

  2. Countries with progressive justice systems may be legally compelled to refrain from violent forms of punishment for even the most heinous criminals since enacting such punishments will require a drastic shift in the core values and practices underpinning their legislation.    

  3. State sanctioned violence may be abused in less transparent systems by powerful individuals or institutions, thereby undermining the rule of law and order that it supposedly upholds.

  4. The desire for vengeance through violent punishment of criminals may not necessarily provide closure for all victims and may in fact result in greater emotional or psychological trauma when improperly handled by the state.

  5. The punitive satisfaction gained by victims of crime cannot morally justify the anguish and pain felt by the families and close ones of the convicted criminal, who have to undergo the ordeal of watching the state execute their family member.

  6. The use of violence for self-defense, if improperly handled, may escalate into punitive actions as victims justify their actions and begin their own acts of victimization against innocent parties, thereby perpetuating the cycle of instability, violence and hate.