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War vs. Murder

 
 
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Jun, 2009 06:32 pm
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;66101 wrote:
Yes the Bush doctrine was essentially this, and just because it is an unpopular doctrine doesn't make it less functionally true.


This is an important point: I am not concerned about whether or not people and states happen to do such and such (the function), but I am instead asking by what measure do we justify the function.

GoshisDead;66101 wrote:
It is the same argument, the law is made morally, executed amorally. It is why we call the exectutive branch in the U.S. the exectutive branch it executes the laws, there are other branches endowed with the responsibility of morality, judicial interprets and legislative creates. This is the reason why law enforcement and the military are under the exectutive branch, and why lady justice is blind.


Notice you are providing a mess of "is"es. We are presented with a question about how one should act, a moral question, which means we are looking for an ought - ought cannot be derived from is alone.

GoshisDead;66101 wrote:
I attempting to approach this explanation from a functional direction, stating what functions in the interaction between state and individual are expressed.


Do you imagine this sort of interaction to be the only sort of interaction possible between man and state?

GoshisDead;66101 wrote:
The interaction between person and state seems to be more complex, a series of negotiations between personal morals and the desire to have actions committed on the individual's behalf that the individual cannot or will not do for him or herself. Thus there is a functional amorality in state execution of law and national/cultural ideal that suspends all morality for those directly in employ of the state.


Is/ought in all its glory.

GoshisDead;66101 wrote:
BEcause the state is not subject to executive morals because to execute a law is necessarily amoral neither are the individuals the state uses to execute them.


It may be true that laws are executed amorally, but I fail to see how laws are necessarily executed amorally. Is it impossible for a police officer to draw upon his own morality when making a decision in the field?

Here is my point: if it is possible for an agent employed by the state to act according to his moral convictions, no matter if those convictions align or diverge from state mandate, then the agent is confronted with a choice regarding how he ought to act. This kind of choice seems to be an inherently moral choice.

The only additional premise I can detect is that the IS is for the good of the state (as a state's stability is certainly good for the state). So your argument looks something like this:

1. People do X
2. X is good for the state
3. Therefore, people ought to do X

Is there anything more important than the state when we consider how we ought to act?

GoshisDead;66101 wrote:
they are executions of policy necessary for stability.


And stability is neither good nor bad? Do we seek state stability for its own sake?

I think this is the source of our issues: while you justify immorality by appealing to the state's needs, I enter the discussion with the assumption that there are more important concerns than the existence of any given state.

For example, as independent observers, I would judge Aribert Heim (Dr. Death) as being morally responsible for his decisions to follow the will of the state and perform horrendous torture upon innocent people. However, if I correctly understand your standard, as an independent outside observer, Dr. Heim cannot be morally responsible because he acted out the will of the state.
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Jun, 2009 06:45 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Okay IS/OUGHT, I get it. The state is not subject to the same morals as the indivdual because it is not subject to morals, which exempts it from ought. It is an entity that is outside of morality in its execution and protection of itself and the individual. Yes Dr. Death is not morally responsible for his actions insofar as what he did was ordered by the state as an extention of the state's suspension of morality. It should be noted however, that I'm not arguing for legislators and judiciary as being amoral only the executive portions. So as far as the execution was applied to policy yes he is not responisble for his actions.

And as far as ought, I don't think there is really such a thing as ought, there is the is as is practiced and the is as is idealized. All ideals are not practiced as such, they cannot be or they would no longer live in the realm of idea. Ought is a non-possibility. This is not to say change to the 'positive' as we see it isn't possible, only that the positive is subject to change as it evolves to fit the everchanging is adn thus the everchanging ideals of a culture. Which brings us to discussions we have had on the evolution versus progression of rights and morals within a society in other threads.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Jun, 2009 08:55 pm
@GoshisDead,
I want to preface this post by saying that I am not trying to turn this into a grudge match. I am very much interested in understand you (even if my obdurateness suggests otherwise) and investigate our disagreement because your claim that the state transcends morality and can suspend morality for mankind is, well, quite radical. I cannot even think of a single practitioner of this view (as I understand it) who would admit openly to actually espousing this view.

GoshisDead;66110 wrote:
The state is not subject to the same morals as the indivdual because it is not subject to morals, which exempts it from ought.


Any given state is exempt from questions of morality. The question "what should a state do?" is incoherent, yes?

Why is the state exempt from moral critique? Because it is not subject to the same morals as individuals... well, why is this the case? And even if the state is not subject to the same moral standards as the individual, why are states exempt from morals at all? Is it impossible to construct theories which explain what states should and should not do?

GoshisDead;66110 wrote:
It is an entity that is outside of morality in its execution and protection of itself and the individual.


Do you mean that states are outside of morals because states attempt to protect itself and the individual, or that states are outside or morals when the state is attempting to protect itself and the individual?

One of my concerns with this sort of suggestion is the hierarchy of moral value. If the state transcends morality in pursuit of its survival, then there seems to be an implied, inherent moral value of the state that exceeds the inherent moral value of a human being - the state can justifiably compell individual suffering for the sake of the state. If you could vamp on this for a moment, I would very much like to hear the account.

GoshisDead;66110 wrote:
Yes Dr. Death is not morally responsible for his actions insofar as what he did was ordered by the state as an extention of the state's suspension of morality. It should be noted however, that I'm not arguing for legislators and judiciary as being amoral only the executive portions. So as far as the execution was applied to policy yes he is not responisble for his actions.


What about the executive aspect of a given state allows this aspect to "suspend morality"? The suspension of morality is a new concept to me. Perhaps this relates to the moral hierarchy being developed?

I also wonder about this distinction between the moral responsibility of legislators and the judiciary and the lack of moral responsibility of the executive. Do I properly understand you: are the legislative and judicial branches compelled (or at least influenced) by morals? And if they are, why are these branches compelled (influenced) by morality whereas the executive transcends morality?

Typically, the thinking goes that anything with moral agency, the ability to make a distinction between right and wrong, has moral responsibility for its actions. What about a state's executive functions override moral agency? Or do you find moral agency insufficient for moral responsibility?

GoshisDead;66110 wrote:
And as far as ought, I don't think there is really such a thing as ought, there is the is as is practiced and the is as is idealized. All ideals are not practiced as such, they cannot be or they would no longer live in the realm of idea. Ought is a non-possibility. This is not to say change to the 'positive' as we see it isn't possible, only that the positive is subject to change as it evolves to fit the everchanging is adn thus the everchanging ideals of a culture. Which brings us to discussions we have had on the evolution versus progression of rights and morals within a society in other threads.


This we can sink our teeth into (in a good way Smile).

There is no ought, but 'positive change' is possible, and this positive change is subject to flux.

What is the difference between ought and 'positive change'? At first glance, this distinction seems to be empty semantics. I know that may sound condescending, but I'm being quite serious:

As I understand you, you are rejecting ought because there is only 'is' in practice and 'is' as idealized. If I respond that 'ought' is 'is' idealized, you smartly reply that if an ideal is practiced it is no longer an ideal but simply an 'is' in practice.

However, I do not understand how there being an 'is' in practice and an 'is' in ideal negates the existence of an ought. If you come across a small child drowning in a pond, and saving the child would be of no detrimental to you, ought a person save the child? If a person ought not save a child, where does the decision to save the child in practice fall; is the decision to save the child an 'is' in practice or an 'is' in ideal. Quite obviously, the decision to save the child is an 'is' in practice because that happens to be what occurs. But I am left wondering what the ideal response to seeing a child drowning in such circumstances might be other than to save the child. In other words, it seems possible to me that 'is' in practice and 'is' in ideal can be the same thing.

But of course, I forgot! To put an 'is' ideal into practice is to make the 'is' ideal an 'is' in practice. And this is where I become completely confused: what moral explanatory value exists in this design of the two 'is'es and why should anyone accept your account? The only difference between 'is' in practice and 'is' ideal is whether or not the 'is' is being practiced - thus, in your terms, 'is' in ideal is the same thing as 'is' in practice the only difference being whether or not the 'is' is relevant at the given moment. This is akin to saying there is no guitar, only guitar-at-rest and guitar-being-played. But clearly this is false: the guitar is in both cases a guitar, the only difference being the relationship between the guitar and some musical agent. The same is true of your distinction of 'is' - they are exactly the same, only one is being implemented and the other is not being implemented.

So now we get back to ought. Ought, you say, is not possible. Again, let us go back to our small hopeless child who awaits your rescue. Should you save the child? While it is true that either you do or do not save the child (either there is an 'is' in practice, the practice of saving the child, or there is an 'is' in ideal, refraining from saving the child), this fact does not seem to negate the notion that you ought to either save the child or let the child drown.

To make another example: it is true that either I kill someone for no reason or that I do not kill someone for no reason ('is' in practice being that I kill, 'is' in ideal being that I do not kill). However, this enumeration of possible outcomes does not address the question: 'how should I act: should I kill or not?' Ought I kill, or ought I refrain from killing? If this question is incoherent (if there is no such thing as an ought), then morality is incoherent as well. 'What should I do?' is the fundamental question unpon which all normative ethics rests. If the question is incoherent, normative ethics, the attempt to determine morally appropriate and inappropriate options, is incoherent.

I would be surprised if you claimed that moral questions were incoherent. I say this because it is a remarkably radical claim that I have never heard, and also because you mention the possibility of "positive change".

You say that 'positive change' is subject to the same flux as culture. I agree with that much. But if we can, at any given moment, determine that Change X constitutes a positive change then musn't we admit that at that given moment we ought to make Change X? It is true that either we make Change X or that we do not make Change X, but simply by recognizing X as a positive change at any given moment, don't we also recognize the implementation of X as an ought?

To put it another way: what is the difference, at a particular instant, between a 'positive change' and an 'ought'?

**************************************

Okay, a breath of uncontested air. Engaging in this discussion is a matter of curiosity to me. I doubt I could disagree with you any more than I already do, but you seem to have these concepts worked out in your own mind. I can relate: you have it worked out in your head and cannot imagine why others have such a tough damn time wrapping their heads around something that seems so obvious. My guess is that I am asking some of the same questions again and again and understanding very little. Bear with me? Surprised

I have never heard anyone seriously argue that someone like Dr. Heim has absolutely no moral responsibility for his actions. Even the White Supremascists say he has moral responsibility (otherwise, they could not make him a hero). My favorite aspect of the view you present is its cold presentation of the human reality. Morality, if it makes any sense at all, is a minor concern. The state is so powerful that 'ought' is irrelevant and man is left with only 'is'-doing or 'is'-not doing with respect to the state's demands. It's a bleak, you-betta-muddle-through philosophy that might very well capture the feelings of a great many people (I'm thinking about comparisions to the corporate model). The aesthetic quality is grotesquely attractive, and such a quality always makes for an interesting read and discussion.

Also, if these perspectives are derived from or inspired by already published theories, could you give some suggested reading materials?
0 Replies
 
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Jun, 2009 11:50 pm
@Mathematicaverde,
wow this is about 12 new threads worth of material to cover.

I am not saying that the state transcends morality, only that the executive functions of the state as it needs to be in practice is not subject to them as far as they are executing the law. They are necessarily amoral in its strictest sense, not amoral, in the sociopathic sense as is normally connoted by the term amoral. It simply is neither moral or immoral, the mechanical execution of law. Law can be moral or immoral. The executive function of the law is to execute the law unquestioning and with pure equality.

The executive function of the state within its own laws cannot be held responsible for acts that would condemn or imprison the individual within that state as a necessity to maintain stability within the state. The state must commit acts of violence, imprisonment, is some cases killing in order to maintain order and peace within the state for its individual members. There is a necessary double standard for the executive functionaries working for the state and the lay person. A prison guard is not held responsible for acts of violence against a prisoner, the same acts that would make me a prisoner in that guard's prison. He is not held responsible because said violent prisoner supposedly presents a threat to order within the state if allowed to continue acting the way he is/does. I would be fine with an argument for the executive branch having a modified set of applied morals but in application compared to the lay member of a state it is less accurate in my opinion.

One issue that I think I have not cleared up is the issues of personal agency. The individual refusing to do what they think is immoral, being imperative. However this double standard refutes individual morality by replacing it with a suspended moral ideology in certain executive situations. It becomes patriotic to kill the enemy, it becomes 'serving and protecting' to incarcerate criminals. The morality of this situation is not in the execution of the order but in the definition of who is the enemy and who is the criminal, which can only be made by some sort of organized communal consensus and can change at a moment's notice as situations change. Look at the example of "the war on terror". In hind sight most of the U.S. and its legislators are not so sure that Iraq and Islam are the enemy, but right after 9/11 there was considerable pressure on the government to find the 'people responsible' "an enemy' and do something about it.

An individual agent of the executive function of the state while acting under order for the state cannot be held responsible for his actions for several reasons. Psychological: A good soldier is an obedient soldier and doesn't question orders. They are trained to execute orders whether they agree with them or not because command has reasons for them to be executed and that 'should be good enough'. Ideological: the good of the country and preservation of way of life (good or bad) is a soldier's duty, Legally: the soldier in this double standard has a different set of laws by which to abide for every situation. S/he is expected to abide by civil laws while off duty in public, military laws while on duty or a base, and martial time law while on active duty or martial law situations. If his wife tells him to kill his neighbor and he does he's gonna fry, if his commanding officer tells him to kill an Iraqi insurgent in the field and he refuses he's gonna fry. If we are going to propose that killing is wrong but, the soldier is not 'wrong' for killing under orders in martial law settings, in fact he is celebrated by the nation at large for doing so, I propose that the executive function of state operates under a suspended morality. Now if you were to find out that you were living next to a convicted murderer, would you invite him over to a BBQ? Probably not. If your neighbor was a veteran who had seen action and committed violent acts up to and including killing, during war time you would likely have much fewer to no compunctions about inviting him over. This is because war time violence and other sanctioned executive violence is necessary for the functioning of a stable state.

The suspension of morality to allow for necessary violence is not unchecked. Again I reiterate that it is only suspended insomuch as it is an executor of the law. The law's morality is what it is good or bad. A dictatorial state may be deemed by us as immoral, as it violates what we consider to be basic human rights. The law of these states are immoral (I'm not arguing for moral relativity here) we will assert that these laws are immoral. The executive functions of those states just like our own soldiers and policemen, however, do not hold responsibility for the law, in some cases they could refuse to become soldiers or policemen, try to escape from the country, whatever. Realistically this can't happen, every person in a fascist state leaving said fascist state. The policemen and soldiers of this state are simply operating as the unfeeling equal arbiter of the law. They, like our policemen are simply providing the necessary stabilizing force to perpetuate the state as is. Thus Dr. Death assuming that he only acted as the law of his state dictated is not responsible for immoral acts under the same rubric that Sgt. Steve Stevenson of X cavalry U.S. army is not responsible for his immoral act of shooting X Iraqi Insurgent under the suspended morality of the state.

Dr Death: Dr. Death's vilification by some or beatification by others is a reflection of their own morality not his or the state which order his actions. Dr. Death's possible enjoyment of his actions may reflect his personal immorality or immoral nature but the actions themselves cannot be condemned within the state that ordered him to do them. The condemnation of his actions by another state is not only a condemnation of him and his actions but a condemnation of a rival state.

Side Note: Human tendency is to dehumanize in order to make a villian out of a rival state or person. Take a look at world war two propoganda where Japanese were portrayed as ratlike, and Nazis as monsters. Listen to the slurs waged against Muslims, Towelheads, Camel Jockeys, even the treatment of Kim Jong Il in Team America World Police etc... anything to make them alien, comic, and less human makes them easier to vilify. Terms for the criminal element in the U.S. same, "oh those gangbangers are animals", "the savage actions of the mafia" etc... This is simply an expression of our justification of mistreatment of others. We need to dehumanize them to treat them in a uniformly bad way, even if we truely believe that they deserve it. So in the case of violent convicts we don;t really see them as people we see them as animal like people or even animals proper. This relates to the suspended morality of the executive force by making these executors more like pest control or exterminators in the public consciousness than people doing harm to other people.

I'll leave the rest for another time.
0 Replies
 
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Jun, 2009 11:52 am
@Mathematicaverde,
As to the question of Is and Ought. Ought is not really an ought defined by what we should do to be moral. Ought is an outlying version of the is as is practiced. One could look at it as a statistical bell curve. There are people who are commonly practice many of the culture's anti-virtues at one end the ought not, there are people in the middle who mostly do what what the ideal is but fall short often then there are people at the other end who are nearly saints so to speak. The ought and the ought not are simply the impractical ideal ends of the current common is. The is as we practice it is what the general population is capable of doing while the oughts and the ought nots are what the parts of the population who posses the characteristics to do them do. Sports could be an analogy. I in the realm of Basketball am right in the middle of the bell curve. If Coby Bryant is the ought ideal and a person who was vegetable from birth is at the ought not ideal. My capabilities for basketball cannot ever approach the the ough end of the curve. Just as I know that although I consider myself closer to the ought end in morality I know that I would never have the moral stamina to be as far along the curve as say, Mother Theresa.

The physical sports analogy in not apt in one way, it is limited by human potential in the physical realm and the ought end of Coby Bryant does not drive the culture as a whole towards his abilities because of it. Morality as an abstract of human behavior is less controlled by human biological limits, although I do not think that it is completely uncontrolled by it. As you said this seems like trick argument because when the ought ideal is achieved then it becomes is, yet if you look at ought as a statistical outlyer of the common is, it is simply still a part of is. Since slavery has been an extreme example in sever threads I'll use that. There has always been a fraction fo the population who has abhored slavery as far as we know in every culture that has espoused it. As the situations change and populations adapt to them. What we consider the ought of that human right shifted to the center as the is when the population of abolishionists grew and the pro-slavery population shifted to the ought not, and throughout history in any given culture or conglomerate of cultures this has shifted back and forth until now where only an extreme minority of the population of the world actually has a pro-slavery, as an institutionalized practice attitude.

As noted by most secular moral codes and religious moral codes, most issues have been represented in the bell curve of morals already. It is very rare to have wholly new moral questions unrelated to old ones enter the cultural conscience. Recent technological advances might change that soon, human genetic engineering and such, although it could be argued that the problems proposed by that can be analogous to current and past class and material access problems. Anyway, morality and is and ought are IMO simply shifting versions of IS as parts of the population gain moral influence over other parts.

---------- Post added at 10:56 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:52 AM ----------

And my ides could very well be influenced by some already published theories but I'm horrible at sourcing. However, materialist cultural anthropology, and functional linguistics has greatly influenced how I look at the world. I often look at systems and not individuals and consider some systems to be somewhat independent of the individual agents. Both unpopular ways of thinking in current philosophical trends.
0 Replies
 
Zacrates
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Jun, 2009 03:17 pm
@Mathematicaverde,
My opinion on the original question:

When there are two armies, both heavily armed, and both ready to kill, what is the difference between them shooting us, or us shooting them before we can get shot. Especially when the enemies intent is to do harm after they win the fight.
0 Replies
 
RDRDRD1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Jun, 2009 12:12 pm
@Mathematicaverde,
And all our fine principles and distinctions are thrown right out the window when we factor in the all-prevasive element known as "Victor's Justice." The legality, even the morality, of killing in war often hinges on whether your side wins. I suspect that, had the Vietnamese had the chance to put William Calley on trial, the outcome would have been radically different than the house arrest and pardon he received from Nixon, no?
0 Replies
 
parker pyne
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Jul, 2009 09:18 pm
@Mathematicaverde,
Murder in the name of self-defence is legal (meaning you may be acquitted from manslaughter charges). To add, this type of murder is also socially acceptable.

In australia, we have a type of defence called the "battered wife syndrome". When a wife is badly abused by her husband, and suffers psychological detriments in the process, she may subsequently kill her husband to stop the abuse. This is a legitimate self-defense plea in some cases.

Now take the 03 invasion of Iraq. In 2001 the US had been struck with the atrocity of 9/11. Two years later, Bush proposed the pre-emptive war on Iraq - essentially a pre-self-defense "get-them-before-they-get-us" strategy.

Admittedly I've never been a proponent of war, and I'm all for love and peace, but this made me think. How was the pre-emptive strike made by Bush any different to the murder by a mistreated wife? If the latter is excusable in court, why shouldn't the former be?


+ I'm not trying to debate the ethics behind murder itself, but I'm proposing that legal consistency is ethically desirable.
RDRDRD1
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Jul, 2009 10:59 pm
@Mathematicaverde,
Pre-emptive war is similar to the self-defence issue - you had better be right about it after the fact or you had better show a clear and convincing reason to believe you were in danger. Bush had no legitimate and convincing reason to believe America was in imminent danger from Saddam, none. That stripped his conquest of Iraq of all legitimacy and rendered it a war of aggression which has been a cardinal war crime since the United States made it one in the aftermath of WWII. We hanged plenty of people for waging war of aggression - just not Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz/Perle,Feith and the band played on.
0 Replies
 
salima
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Jul, 2009 12:04 am
@Krumple,
Krumple;64060 wrote:
When you have more people rooting for your cause, anything goes even out right brutality stands because the people backing you approve of your ambition against the opposing side.

This is scattered all over history. Just look at world war 2 japan. The US dropped bombs that killed in a blink of an eye and today the US is buddy buddy with the Japanese. The US was clearly in the wrong for dropping the first one, yet they dropped a second anyway. How the Japanese have not become bitter over this history I'm not sure. But on the other hand absolutely NO Americans ever say that what was done was wrong. At least I've never heard any make those statements.


i am an american citizen, and i say it was wrong-unequivocally wrong and inexcusable. there must be more of us...

parker-
the pre-emptive strike by bush was nothing like a battered wife striking back after abuse. even if bush was right and didnt lie to serve his own agenda and that of the people who pulled his strings, there is no comparison. the battered wife is mentally unstable and unfit to make any decisions or get help, terrified beyond the point of reason and even when alternatives are there she cannot see them. the crime has already been committed against her. i am not sure this should be called self defense, maybe temporary insanity would be better. whoever specifically orchestrated and committed the events of 9/11 was not identified and targetted specifically. an entire country was destroyed from the inside out not only by war but by economic sanctions-two countries are being occupied and justified with lies.

gosh-
i get what you are saying, (i hope i did) and i see this is how it is. the hangman has to be morally exonerated or else who would pull the lever that opens the trap door? but suppose he knows the person is innocent-suppose he himself commited the crime? even if no one ever knows, he is doing something immoral if he does his job. he is not really absolved of responsibility. it is an illusion used as an excuse, as you said to ensure stability of the state, law and order. too many people are so ready to give up their personal accountability rather than use their brains to make a decision as to what is moral or not. if all people had a true sense of morality there would not need to be any law.(dam, there goes that dream of utopia again, it just wont die)

but i am against capital punishment-i am against war, and any laws i would write would be to uphold those values. if it were my job to hire the police force to enforce the law, i would want them to do it without killing anyone. i would want them to kill only to prevent a greater scale of deaths than their killing would entail. i know you are saying what IS...i am saying what i believe OUGHT to be.
RDRDRD1
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Jul, 2009 09:01 am
@Mathematicaverde,
I don't know that we can honestly say that all killing is wrong. It is certainly unpleasant and always unfortunate but it's not always wrong whether the killing is at the hands of an individual or a state.

The English-speaking world has embraced British Common Law which admits a number of exemptions or defences to the crime of murder. Absent premeditation, for example, murder is transformed to manslaughter. Beyond that we find self-defence and the defence of necessity - for example where the commander of the lifeboat must choose one occupant to be put over the side lest the boat be swamped and all die. Then there are a host of issues including foreseeability, intent, mental capacity, and so on.

As someone noted earlier, wars have typically been waged to expand power or territory. One nation may wish to impose its ideology on others, spreading democracy for example, or prevent a rival ideology from becoming established in some area. Hitler, of course, invoked Lebensraum, the need for more territory for the growing German populus, to annex territory.

Today we're witnessing the advent of another type of warfare, previously quite rare - wars of sustenance or wars of survival. These are resource wars. The UN has begun keeping a log of them and accelerating climate change is expected to increase them in numbers and magnitude. Noted military expert Gwynne Dyer has an excellent discussion of this in his book Climate Wars. In it he notes that history shows that tribes or societies facing impending environmental collapse always do the same thing before they disappear - they raid.

In this scenario, you're prepared to kill without any pretence of moral justification. You may actually abhore what you're doing and anguish at the suffering you inflict on your victims. But you will put them - men, women and children - to the sword before you will see your own children perish for want of sustenance.

Waging war of sustenance raises interesting parallels to the classic defence of necessity. Given that the European nations drew national boundaries throughout Africa and much of Asia to comport with their colonial interests, you wind up with internal, ethnic stresses that have led to tragedy from Biafra to Rwanda. Now there are some who say the disaster in Darfur is actually rooted in a water war.

Even major nations, absolutely critical to any hopes of ever achieving an effective pact on global warming, are being confronted with threats to essential resources, principally water. China and India are the most worrisome. Both are facing a variety of freshwater issues that could trigger seismic internal instability and then spill over their borders into neighbouring states.

It is no small irony that we in the West who, for the last three centuries at least, have been the most warlike creatures on Earth, have also been the quickest to moralize on warfare and state violence. It is easy for us, from the comfort and security of our advantaged homelands, to pass judgment on other, less advantaged states in distant corners of the world.

Climate change appears bound to usher in a new reality and with it a new morality. All our fine philosophies, values and ideals may be reduced to quaint notions from another time much as we today view Edwardian sensibilities.

I think the Western nations will, at an early stage, give up their Arthurian quest to impose peace and order (albeit self-serving) on the world and will instead retreat and raise the drawbridges. The moats would be the Mediterranean Sea and the Rio Grande. Some even question how much climate change the European Union itself could withstand before it breaks along north-south lines with the northwestern states abandoning southern and eastern Europe.

Many of us (me too, thankfully) won't be around to see these events played out and the new morality and new philosophies emerge but it seems likely that these are matters that will be overtaken by change and, hence, shaped by necessity.
0 Replies
 
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Jul, 2009 02:58 pm
@salima,
Quote:
i get what you are saying, (i hope i did) and i see this is how it is. the hangman has to be morally exonerated or else who would pull the lever that opens the trap door? but suppose he knows the person is innocent-suppose he himself commited the crime? even if no one ever knows, he is doing something immoral if he does his job. he is not really absolved of responsibility. it is an illusion used as an excuse, as you said to ensure stability of the state, law and order. too many people are so ready to give up their personal accountability rather than use their brains to make a decision as to what is moral or not. if all people had a true sense of morality there would not need to be any law.(dam, there goes that dream of utopia again, it just wont die)

but i am against capital punishment-i am against war, and any laws i would write would be to uphold those values. if it were my job to hire the police force to enforce the law, i would want them to do it without killing anyone. i would want them to kill only to prevent a greater scale of deaths than their killing would entail. i know you are saying what IS...i am saying what i believe OUGHT to be.


Salima:
This is why not everyone has the "moral flexibility" of person to be the hangman. I am however separating the person from the state. I am asserting that whatever persons do whatever action directed and sanctioned by the state are tools of the state, and if there were secular moral consequences they would be placed on the state. The state however, I assert has a sort of limited immunity to these consequences by a "greater good" exemption. Now whether capital punishment is accepted at the state level is, at least in modernized countries, a function of the people's will en mass. The state however, is an system composed of people but not necessarily directed by individuals. This means that although there are individuals with large sway in the management of the state, there are cultural forces, traditions, dogmas, and beliefs, that normally over ride anyone one person's influence.

There are also executive functions of the state that do not necessarily involve killing but do involve actions that the normal citizenry cannot perform without being arrested etc... The police are one function. Even in there most benign state, they are invested with the latitude to inflict physical violence over and above the violence or threat posed by a criminal. Policemen are often considered cultural heroes because of this violence. As in, "oh look at the policeman and his dangerous job", when that dangerous job is dangerous not only because of the criminals, but because the policeman is obligated to escalate the violence to a level above the original threat so that the original threat is neutralized. Unlike the hangman, in main stream society, there is no general cultural stigma attached to police or other law enforcement. So although there are stipulations for escalating unwarranted violence, for the most part police also possess the limited immunity provided by their function of the state executive entities.
0 Replies
 
jchai6
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 05:01 am
@Mathematicaverde,
Why do soldiers kill? Their country wants them to.
The country is the one commiting the murder.

because the law IS the country, the country will not be judged. Think about it.
if the system is commiting a crime, will the system judge itself? probably not. The other countries dont do anything because they are guilty of this crime as well.

its like that saying "who will police the police?",

This is just what I think. correct me if im way wrong...
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 07:21 am
@parker pyne,
parker pyne;79414 wrote:
take the 03 invasion of Iraq. In 2001 the US had been struck with the atrocity of 9/11. Two years later, Bush proposed the pre-emptive war on Iraq - essentially a pre-self-defense "get-them-before-they-get-us" strategy.
The crime in this circumstance had everything to do with the Bush administration's faulty risk assessment. It's like a wife killing a husband who has not abused her, has given no hint he will abuse her, but she thinks that some day he may. (note we're talking about killing her husband, not leaving her husband)

If you assume for the sake of argument (because who really knows) that the Bush administration TRULY thought that war in Iraq would diminish the foment of terrorism in the Middle East and the proliferation of WMDs, then their crime is rushing into war without making a case for imminent risk (that could not be mitigated by diplomacy).

And that is the BEST light in which you can paint the Bush decision. Many wars are launched because of pretexts. And the galvanizing effect of 9/11 gave Bush an easy pretext for launching a war against one of our enemies.

That's not to say that ALL preemptive war would be unjustified, but to be justified we'd have to entertain a situation in which an unjustified war would inevitably happen anyway without preemption.
0 Replies
 
RDRDRD1
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 03:53 pm
@Mathematicaverde,
Ever since the United States crafted the current world order in the wake of WWII, a nation is only permitted to wage war on another with the approval of the UN Security Council or pre-emptively. Pre-emptive war is a conflict launched in the face of an imminent attack by the other country. The threat has to be real. It must be imminent.

The UN authorized the use of military force in Korea. You might remember the Security Council gave its nod once the Soviets conveniently stormed out.

Blair knew a Security Council resolution was necessary before invading Iraq. That's why Britain tabled the appropriate motion. Having tacitly acknowledged that Security Council authorization was necessary to invade legally, Blair had the motion pulled when it was obvious it was going to get trounced by many permanent SC members and most temporary members. In his rather clumsy retreat, Blair tried to blame it all on a French threat to veto but he knew full well, as did Washington, that they didn't have nearly enough support on the Security Council on a simple vote. The British motion never would have passed, France would have nothing to veto. The French veto excuse was a straw man, pure and simple.

With that door closed the only way for Messrs. Bush and Blair not to become war criminals was the pre-emptive war route. They had to maintain that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and the ability and imminent intent to use them.

They were presented with yet another obstacle at that point - Hans Blix and the team of UN weapons inspectors. The CIA and the Pentagon had sent them to one suspected weapons site after another and, each time, there were no weapons of mass destruction. Blix said so. He added that the Iraqis were reluctantly cooperating with his inspectors. Instead of allowing Blix to complete his remaining searches, the Security Council pulled him and the inspectors out of Iraq ending their inconvenient statements. After that both Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair outrageously said that the Blix team had been outfoxed.

Can there be an "imminent" threat if you cannot find either the weapons or the associated delivery systems? Let's put it this way - you or I wouldn't get away with that sort of flimsy pretext. Teachers no longer believe that household pets eat their students' homework either.

Without an actual casus belli, the invasion and conquest of Iraq was an illegal war of aggression outlawed under the UN charter which binds all signatories including, of course, the United States and Great Britain.

If the war itself is illegal, a war crime, how can killing conducted by the forces partaking in that illegal war have any greater legitimacy? Surely that must be illegal homicide, perhaps not actual murder, even if committed under an honest belief in its legality.

We're pleasantly realistic about these things. We don't tend to put on trial the infantrymen who pull the triggers or the pilots who drop the bombs. But we do hold their directing minds, their leaders accountable for war crimes. Ask Slobodan Milosevic about that but, then again, he died before he could be properly tried.

I doubt Messrs. Bush and Blair will ever be seated in a prisoner's dock but I think there's probably an even chance both will, at some point, be indicted for the war crime of waging war of aggression and the consequent deaths. That simply means there'll be a handful of countries they'll no longer risk visiting just as Henry Kissinger steers well clear of certain jurisdictions that would have him stand trial for the deaths in Chile at the hands of the tryrant Pinochet.

Based on what is on the public record today I'm convinced that both Tony Blair and George Bush, along with several top members of their respective cabinets, are unindicted war criminals.
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 07:24 pm
@RDRDRD1,
RDRDRD1;82626 wrote:
Without an actual casus belli, the invasion and conquest of Iraq was an illegal war of aggression outlawed under the UN charter which binds all signatories
I think this is a technicality. The war's inherent moral justification or lack thereof can stand on its own irrespective of the UN's stamp of approval.

I'm all for the UN, but it's repeatedly been an abject failure for truly justified interventions, most famously Rwanda. (I commend you to read "Shake Hands with the Devil" by Romeo Dallaire, who commanded UNAMIR in Rwanda during the genocide).

What that proves is that the UN, due to conflicting political interests and rivalries on the security council, is simply ill equipped to make the right calls in a timely manner, and it turns out that Republicans and other political conservatives in the US largely disdain the UN anyway.

Now it so happens that I agree that the American invasion of Iraq was morally repugnant, it was illegal under international law, and it was contortedly legal under American law.

But I don't think the failure to get UN approval is a compelling reason to condemn it. I think the fact that it was the wrong thing to do and that (worse yet) it was done incompetently IS a reason to condemn it.
Philosopher Jay
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 08:36 pm
@Aedes,
The premise reminds me of Voltaire's great point:
"It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets."
0 Replies
 
RDRDRD1
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 10:35 pm
@Mathematicaverde,
It's a "technicality" except to the dozens of people you thought it justified hanging. Tell their families they died for a technicality. Christ, how self-serving is that excuse?

You seem to ascribe to the "might is right" philosophy subject only to the condition that the might is excercised with adequate finesse, at acceptable expense and satisfatory result. Are you on Richard Perle's payroll?

America prescribed the rules of what is right and what is wrong. Does that give America the right to say, "Those rules are fine, just not for us. We're exceptional." We are (hopefully) nations of laws and a community of nations of laws. Without them it's back to the old "might is right." How many tens of millions of lives has that claimed? When a law enforced on penalty of death is treated by the powerful as a "technicality" there is no law.
salima
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Aug, 2009 12:09 am
@Aedes,
Aedes;82656 wrote:
I think this is a technicality. The war's inherent moral justification or lack thereof can stand on its own irrespective of the UN's stamp of approval.

I'm all for the UN, but it's repeatedly been an abject failure for truly justified interventions, most famously Rwanda. (I commend you to read "Shake Hands with the Devil" by Romeo Dallaire, who commanded UNAMIR in Rwanda during the genocide).

What that proves is that the UN, due to conflicting political interests and rivalries on the security council, is simply ill equipped to make the right calls in a timely manner, and it turns out that Republicans and other political conservatives in the US largely disdain the UN anyway.

Now it so happens that I agree that the American invasion of Iraq was morally repugnant, it was illegal under international law, and it was contortedly legal under American law.

But I don't think the failure to get UN approval is a compelling reason to condemn it. I think the fact that it was the wrong thing to do and that (worse yet) it was done incompetently IS a reason to condemn it.


i know this is very naive of me, but i actually thought when usa was testing the international theatre by hemming and hawing about attacking iraq that even though they had maneuvered the un out of the way somehow this would galvanize the world together to stand up and say 'enough already! this is NOT going to happen!' i thought of how they could do it with a combined effort that wouldnt even have to include force-just economic and political strategies could have prevented usa from going ahead. but no one spoke up in a unified manner...to this day i applaud those governments who did firmly express their belief that the decision was morally wrong, and i only wish there were more of them.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Aug, 2009 03:17 am
@salima,
The invasion of Iraq would have been forgotten if the intelligence had informed Bush and Blair of the consequences.If the two tribes of Islam had embrassed the situation, the invasion had allowed, we would not be condemning the war,we would be applauding it.
The real tragedy of the war was the fact that we did not realise the hatred Shia and Sunni have for each other.Remember Sadam had invaded neighbouring countries ,he had claimed chemical weapons,he had used them on neighbours and his own people,he did have long range missiles,which he used on his neighbours.
How many of you would prefer to return to those dangerous days when Sadam ruled.The only reason the UN refused to sanction the war was the usual political reasons, we now see in Darfur.
0 Replies
 
 

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