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Eamon Arasbard

The Golden Rule as a basis for rights

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In this particular case, there's a mis-calculation. Killing innocent civilians more often than not reinforces the will to resist.

 

Really? Because the history of war suggests the exact opposite. History suggests that aggression does not end until the horror of war is made real to the civilian population that initiated/supported/passively allowed the aggression.

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Really? Because the history of war suggests the exact opposite. History suggests that aggression does not end until the horror of war is made real to the civilian population that initiated/supported/passively allowed the aggression.

Yes, really.I can offer examples to support my point: by all evidence, German resistance to the allies increased as a result of the bombinmg campaign. Surely, that was true, too of the vietnamese against the Americans. Al Quiada and Taliban recruit against American terror,as does hamas against the occupation by the zionist entity,

 

Shermans' March through Grorgia is commonly said to have sparked the resistance against reconstruction, and assisted in bringing about Jim Crow.reconstruction. Likewise, british terror tactic iin the southern campaign drew neutrals against the tories and over to the continental side.

 

In Crete, the Eleventh Day lasted for three years, until german surrender in May of 45.

Edited by frank harley

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Yes, really. I can offer examples to support my point: by all evidence...

 

Do any of these examples demonstrate that hardened resistance due to unprovoked attack ultimately led to victory?  Vietnam perhaps, and if one concludes that the Vietnamese prevailed in a practical test of doing unto others against the Americans, then one might have a strong argument for the Golden Rule.

 

Many will recognize me as one of this forums strongest advocates of ethical reciprocity.  However I don't think of it so much as a basis for rights, as a means of justice.  Whatever rights exist, one ought to allow others an equal share of the benefit of having them, as Ayn Rand suggests with:

 

"The Right to the Pursuit of Happiness means man’s right to live for himself, to choose what constitutes his own private, personal, individual happiness and to work for its achievement, so long as he respects the same right in others. It means that Man cannot be forced to devote his life to the happiness of another man nor of any number of other men. It means that the collective cannot decide what is to be the purpose of a man’s existence nor prescribe his choice of happiness." ~ ARL, Individual Rights

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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If you state the golden Rule in the obverse, saying, 'Don't do anything to others that you wouldn't have them do to you", what you uncover is the concept of 'reciprocity'.

 

In other words, the reason why acting selfishly should be done with extreme caution is because it encourages others to do the same. Then everyone acts in the manner of obtaining a narrow self interest.

 

For example, if there's a written charter that protects civilians in the time of war, violation puts your own non-combatants at risk.

 

To this end, consider the American attitude that they could bomb Iraq, et al, with impunity because no Islamic nation had the means to recriprocate. Hello, 9/11!

 

So now, in order to launch drones, America has turned itself into a torture/security state to protect its own citizens. This is the price of 'acting in one's own selfish interests'.

The evasion of reality it must've taken to get to this conclusion is mind blowing.

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Yes, really.I can offer examples to support my point: by all evidence, German resistance to the allies increased as a result of the bombinmg campaign. Surely, that was true, too of the vietnamese against the Americans. Al Quiada and Taliban recruit against American terror,as does hamas against the occupation by the zionist entity,

 

Shermans' March through Grorgia is commonly said to have sparked the resistance against reconstruction, and assisted in bringing about Jim Crow.reconstruction. Likewise, british terror tactic iin the southern campaign drew neutrals against the tories and over to the continental side.

 

In Crete, the Eleventh Day lasted for three years, until german surrender in May of 45.

 

Of course, people fight harder the closer they get to defeat. But the general principle is that peace does not persist until the aggressor, and the population that allowed the aggression, has their morale completely broken. Like Sherman's burning of Atlanta. In my opinion, regarding war as a merely physical phenomenon and disregarding morale/motivation is an outgrowth of a mind-body dichotomy. You need two things to fight a war: physical capacity and motivation.

 

Anyways, there's a book on the subject: http://www.amazon.com/Nothing-Less-than-Victory-Decisive/dp/0691135185/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402667530&sr=8-1&keywords=john+david+lewis

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Let's imagine a concrete example. Let's imagine that the U.S. government declares a war of aggression on Canada. Canada responds by invading in order to destroy our military capacity. Do you suspect that more people would choose to fight the invading force if 1) the Canadians use surgical strikes to take out military bases and factories responsible for producing arms, and avoid harming civilians or 2) if they drop bombs all over the place, resulting in mass civilian casualties? And under which circumstances do you think Americans would be interested in taking revenge once our nation had regained its strength?

 

There are other selfish reasons not to bomb civilians as well, the biggest being the fact that it compromises the non-aggression principle as an objective basis for rights by making a special exception for a single circumstance. If it is permissible for our military to bomb civilians in a country which has attacked us, why shouldn't the police be allowed to open fire indiscriminately on a crowd of bystanders in order to take down a criminal? Why worry about the due process rights of the accused if ignoring them can lead to more criminals being captured?

 

Both cases have relevance to stuff that is actually happening in reality. There are an increasing number of stories in the news of cops opening fire indiscriminately and endangering the lives of bystanders during confrontations with criminals. And you also have feminists arguing that we should take due process rights away from accused rapists in order to fight "rape culture" and eliminate rape. I don't see how the Objectivist argument defending collateral damage in war wouldn't also support both scenarios.

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Let's imagine a concrete example. Let's imagine that the U.S. government declares a war of aggression on Canada. Canada responds by invading in order to destroy our military capacity. Do you suspect that more people would choose to fight the invading force if 1) the Canadians use surgical strikes to take out military bases and factories responsible for producing arms, and avoid harming civilians or 2) if they drop bombs all over the place, resulting in mass civilian casualties? And under which circumstances do you think Americans would be interested in taking revenge once our nation had regained its strength?

In this situation, a rational American would be pro-Canadian, seeing his country as the enemy to be vanquished, probably ruled by some Hitler or Stalin type figure, cheered on by stupidly patriotic/nationalist neighbors.

So, as you asking how such a rational person would react? Or, are you asking about the random average Joe?

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Let's imagine a concrete example. Let's imagine that the U.S. government declares a war of aggression on Canada. Canada responds by invading in order to destroy our military capacity. Do you suspect that more people would choose to fight the invading force if 1) the Canadians use surgical strikes to take out military bases and factories responsible for producing arms, and avoid harming civilians or 2) if they drop bombs all over the place, resulting in mass civilian casualties? And under which circumstances do you think Americans would be interested in taking revenge once our nation had regained its strength?

History tells us that it would be only the first situation, not the second. In the second, Americans will have learned their lesson, and, as long as Canada keeps a strong military, would never attack again.

There are other selfish reasons not to bomb civilians as well, the biggest being the fact that it compromises the non-aggression principle as an objective basis for rights by making a special exception for a single circumstance.

That's not a reason. A reason involves creating a logical relationship between your proposition and reality, not another contested proposition.

Both cases have relevance to stuff that is actually happening in reality. There are an increasing number of stories in the news of cops opening fire indiscriminately and endangering the lives of bystanders during confrontations with criminals.

The first sentence doesn't follow from the second. The news hand picks its stories to further whatever message they wish to send, they don't provide you with an accurate sample of reality.

In reality, statistics show no increase in Police targeting, or even accidentally harming, innocent bystanders.

Edited by Nicky

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In this situation, a rational American would be pro-Canadian, seeing his country as the enemy to be vanquished, probably ruled by some Hitler or Stalin type figure, cheered on by stupidly patriotic/nationalist neighbors.

IF the question (or *a* question, at least) is about the targeting of innocents during war, I begin to think about it this way...

I can imagine a situation, such as you and Eamon describe, where I would "root" against the US; where I would be pro-Canadian, for instance. After all, if we had a Hitler or Stalin in charge, I would be doing what I could to defeat him, too. I would happily welcome Canada's assistance/intervention.

And if, during that conflict, my wife and daughter were killed as "collateral damage"... I would be utterly broken, most likely, but I believe that I would understand the event as stemming from my own country's faults. I don't think I would hold Canada to blame for it. Not even if it were an accident, or if I judged that it could somehow have been avoided. War is full of such tragedy, and I understand that.

However, if I learned that my wife and child were killed by Canada intentionally, as a means of trying to "break my country's will" or something like that... well, I don't know that I could ever forgive such a thing. I might still work to take down the Hitler in my country, but I might come to view Canada as having a Stalin of her own, and work against that country, too. And if innocents are fair game to bring down such a tyrant, well, why not a few "innocent" Canadian wives and daughters to join my own?

I think that this idea of targeting innocents is the methodology of terrorists. I think it is likely to breed more terrorists and more terrorism.

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Targeting of innocents is basically the definition of immorality. I do not think anyone is trying to make the case that this is any sense rational action. I think some are conflating civilian death in war with intentional targeting qua civilian, which is, I think, the definition of terrorism.

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Do any of these examples demonstrate that hardened resistance due to unprovoked attack ultimately led to victory?  Vietnam perhaps, and if one concludes that the Vietnamese prevailed in a practical test of doing unto others against the Americans, then one might have a strong argument for the Golden Rule.

 

Many will recognize me as one of this forums strongest advocates of ethical reciprocity.  However I don't think of it so much as a basis for rights, as a means of justice.  Whatever rights exist, one ought to allow others an equal share of the benefit of having them, as Ayn Rand suggests with:

 

"The Right to the Pursuit of Happiness means man’s right to live for himself, to choose what constitutes his own private, personal, individual happiness and to work for its achievement, so long as he respects the same right in others. It means that Man cannot be forced to devote his life to the happiness of another man nor of any number of other men. It means that the collective cannot decide what is to be the purpose of a man’s existence nor prescribe his choice of happiness." ~ ARL, Individual Rights

Vietnam. Iraq. Afghanistan. The American Revolution against the British. The complete failure of Reconstruction in the south after the Civil War. South/Central American and Mexican resisrance to the Spanish, Spanish resistance to the napoleonic french (guerillas).....etc

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The evasion of reality it must've taken to get to this conclusion is mind blowing.

if I'm evading reality, then you're in complerte denial.

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Targeting of innocents is basically the definition of immorality. I do not think anyone is trying to make the case that this is any sense rational action. I think some are conflating civilian death in war with intentional targeting qua civilian, which is, I think, the definition of terrorism.

 

The definition of terrorism is not targeting civilians. When we firebombed Japan that was not terrorism- that was a bombing campaign. Terrorism is a tactic of war that involves guerilla style-attacks.

 

Targeting civilians can be completely rational- as it was when we used nuclear weapons against Japan. Indeed I would argue that it's often rational in that it's often necessary to secure peace- as it was in Japan and Germany and countless other examples. Also, if you think that this is the definitoin of immorality I'm afraid you either don't understand what it means to hold your own life as the standard or you don't understand that war is a fight for your life.

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So, as you asking how such a rational person would react? Or, are you asking about the random average Joe?

This is also important.

If you consider Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I think they did save countless lives and were moral actions. But why?

I think it must be largely due to the nature of that enemy; what sort of people we were fighting.

If Iran or North Korea were to bomb America, would most Americans want to surrender? Or would they demand retaliation?

If history is any indication, Americans respond to such events with moral outrage.

So what was the difference in WW2 between most Americans and most Japanese?

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In this situation, a rational American would be pro-Canadian, seeing his country as the enemy to be vanquished, probably ruled by some Hitler or Stalin type figure, cheered on by stupidly patriotic/nationalist neighbors.

So, as you asking how such a rational person would react? Or, are you asking about the random average Joe?

 

I was thinking of the average person, although I also do not believe that an American who was pro-Canadian while Canada was bombing civilians would be rational -- they would be practicing altruism by renouncing their right to their own life for the sake of others. But, a rational person would believe that the U.S. government deserved to be destroyed it is was waging a war of aggression, which means that they would likely support an insurgency against the government, especially if the government was totalitarian, as you seem to be suggesting. It would also of course be in the interests of the Canadians to support this insurgency.

 

But, would more people be willing to support an insurgency if Canada was bombing civilians, or if they were taking care to avoid hitting civilians?

 

 

However, if I learned that my wife and child were killed by Canada intentionally, as a means of trying to "break my country's will" or something like that... well, I don't know that I could ever forgive such a thing. I might still work to take down the Hitler in my country, but I might come to view Canada as having a Stalin of her own, and work against that country, too. And if innocents are fair game to bring down such a tyrant, well, why not a few "innocent" Canadian wives and daughters to join my own?

 

And I don't think there is any question that you would be rationally justified in hating the Canadian government under those circumstances, or that you would have widespread support from your fellow citizens. And, as you say, if supporters of a retaliatory attack on Canada follow the same moral principle as the Canadian government practiced, it would result in death of millions of innocent Canadians in a deliberate slaughter.

 

This is also why bombing innocents in Muslim countries increases, rather than diminishing support for Al Qaeda.

 

 

And if, during that conflict, my wife and daughter were killed as "collateral damage"... I would be utterly broken, most likely, but I believe that I would understand the event as stemming from my own country's faults. I don't think I would hold Canada to blame for it. Not even if it were an accident, or if I judged that it could somehow have been avoided. War is full of such tragedy, and I understand that.

 

I think some are conflating civilian death in war with intentional targeting qua civilian, which is, I think, the definition of terrorism.

 

It depends on the nature of the collateral damage. If it was a case where the invader dropped a bomb which was intended to hit a weapons factory that hit someone's house instead, then it's an honest mistake and can be forgiven. If they dropped it on a factory in the middle of a busy city, knowing that innocents would be caught in its blast radius, then that would be an act of aggression against the civilians killed.

 

And regarding Hiroshima and Nagasaki: From my understanding, Japan was close to surrendering anyway, Russia had declared war on them, and if it had come to a land invasion, it would have been bloody, but they were largely defeated by that point and facing two global superpowers. There was also widespread resentment toward the government for leading them into an unnecessary war, and we would have benefitted by working with the civil population to bring the government to its knees. Basically, they had no chance. (Although it is worth mentioning that, given the nature of the Soviet Union, it may have been more moral to double-cross Stalin and form an alliance with Japan.)

 

It is true that we avoided a fight in the short term by nuking Japan. But it had long-term consequences, including not being able to prosecute the Japanese emperor for war crimes (Which I believe would have been easier if we had the moral high ground by virtue of having avoiding civilian casualties in addition to having fought in self-defense) and encouraging the Soviet Union to develop nuclear weapons, creating the arms race which brought the world to the of annihilation multiple times.

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It depends on the nature of the collateral damage. If it was a case where the invader dropped a bomb which was intended to hit a weapons factory that hit someone's house instead, then it's an honest mistake and can be forgiven. If they dropped it on a factory in the middle of a busy city, knowing that innocents would be caught in its blast radius, then that would be an act of aggression against the civilians killed.

Hmmm... I don't know that I can agree on this point.

A weapons factory is a fair target of war, and if we're at war, I'm going to blow your weapons factory up. I would certainly want to do so without killing innocents, within reason. However, if your placement of the weapons factory makes it such that I cannot blow the factory up without some degree of collateral damage, then I think that's part and parcel with warfare. In any event, I don't think I could allow myself to be dissuaded from blowing up your weapons factory in the name of the surrounding innocents.

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You can be irrational and expect others to be irrational to you and not violate the Golden Rule.  Or you could use it as a moral blank check by promising others to not judge them, for example.

 

I would not advocate the Golden Rule as the sole basis for social morality. I would propose it within the context of Objectivist ethics -- we want others to respect our right to be left alone to pursue our selfish interests, so we sanction the rights of others to do the same.

 

 

Eamon Arasbard, on 08 Jun 2014 - 2:11 PM, said:snapback.png

 

What would that mean in practice?

 

What I said above -- if a group of progressives are campaigning to outlaw Objectivism as hate speech, they obviously don't respect our right to voice our opinions, but we would still respect their right to voice theirs.

 

 

An aggressor would not agree with you [on the Golden Rule], and there are impediments to leading by example when one is responding to mortal threats.

 

I agree with you here. I'm not advocating pacifism. The Golden Rule does assume that everyone involved is fundamentally moral, and only works within that contexts. When someone intends to hurt you, your are fully justified in taking the appropriate action to protect yourself.

 

 

One must be cautious in asserting what we want, particularily with respect to a right to life.  For example, are suicides a result of dissent or does a right to life subsume a right not to live?  And if a right to life sanctions suicide, are those who attempt to prevent suicide guilty of transgression??

 

I believe that someone who attempts to commit suicide has renounced their right to freedom of action by renouncing their right to life.

 

 

And yet if those "leftists" win their day in court, an individual right to free speech becomes less than absolute.  Does 'do unto others' imply a duty to respect the will of a majority of others?

 

No. I said individual rights, not collective rights.

 

 

I believe ethical reciprocity is a better descriptor of the Golden Rule, and that this premise does support the practice of justice in a legal context, and interactions with others in general.  However leading by example must also respond to actions one wouldn't choose to initiate, yet must adopt to survive if one chooses to survive aggression.

 

I agree, as long as those actions only harm those who have violated the Golden Rule or the principle of ethical reciprocity.

 

 

So now, in order to launch drones, America has turned itself into a torture/security state to protect its own citizens. This is the price of 'acting in one's own selfish interests'.

 

For this reason, America's actions were not selfish in the sense that Objectivists use the term. And it's because of this that it is selfish to respect the rights of others.

 

 

Kant's view is that we obtain a better decision if we somwhat detach ourselves from our emotions. Rules and principles do just that.

 

This is exactly the same as Rand's position.

 

If my understanding of Kant's categorical imperatives is correct, however, he was basically saying that we should do whatever would produce the best results for everyone if everyone did it. I think that this is making a false assumption that everyone will, in fact, follow the categorical imperative, which will only result in disaster if practiced only by some people. For instance, the world would be a better place if everyone practiced pacifism. But if you take pacifism as a categorical imperative, you're taking away people's right to defend themselves against aggressors.

 

There are also cases where something that would hurt everyone if everyone did it might be good if only a few people do it. If everyone decided at once to quit their job and start growing vegetables, it would lead to economic collapse. But if no one produced food for a living, everyone would starve.

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A weapons factory is a fair target of war, and if we're at war, I'm going to blow your weapons factory up. I would certainly want to do so without killing innocents, within reason. However, if your placement of the weapons factory makes it such that I cannot blow the factory up without some degree of collateral damage, then I think that's part and parcel with warfare.

 

I would consider you responsible for finding a way to destroy the factory without killing innocents. At this point it becomes a technical challenge.

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I would not advocate the Golden Rule as the sole basis for social morality. I would propose it within the context of Objectivist ethics -- we want others to respect our right to be left alone to pursue our selfish interests, so we sanction the rights of others to do the same.

 

 

What I said above -- if a group of progressives are campaigning to outlaw Objectivism as hate speech, they obviously don't respect our right to voice our opinions, but we would still respect their right to voice theirs.

 

 

I agree with you here. I'm not advocating pacifism. The Golden Rule does assume that everyone involved is fundamentally moral, and only works within that contexts. When someone intends to hurt you, your are fully justified in taking the appropriate action to protect yourself.

 

 

I believe that someone who attempts to commit suicide has renounced their right to freedom of action by renouncing their right to life.

 

 

No. I said individual rights, not collective rights.

 

 

I agree, as long as those actions only harm those who have violated the Golden Rule or the principle of ethical reciprocity.

 

 

For this reason, America's actions were not selfish in the sense that Objectivists use the term. And it's because of this that it is selfish to respect the rights of others.

 

 

This is exactly the same as Rand's position.

 

If my understanding of Kant's categorical imperatives is correct, however, he was basically saying that we should do whatever would produce the best results for everyone if everyone did it. I think that this is making a false assumption that everyone will, in fact, follow the categorical imperative, which will only result in disaster if practiced only by some people. For instance, the world would be a better place if everyone practiced pacifism. But if you take pacifism as a categorical imperative, you're taking away people's right to defend themselves against aggressors.

 

There are also cases where something that would hurt everyone if everyone did it might be good if only a few people do it. If everyone decided at once to quit their job and start growing vegetables, it would lead to economic collapse. But if no one produced food for a living, everyone would starve.

Actually, Kant made no such assumption that everyone else would follow The categorical. Rather it's out of a sense of duty that frees our mind from both our own selfish emotions and an expectation of reciprocity from others. the best we can hope is to set a good example.

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"... I think that this is making a false assumption that everyone will, in fact, follow the categorical imperative, which will only result in disaster if practiced only by some people..." ~ Eamon Arasbarb, post 42

 

Everyone does, in fact, follow the categorical imperative.  In terms of human behavior, it fully accounts for the world we live in today.

 

... more later...

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I would consider you responsible for finding a way to destroy the factory without killing innocents. At this point it becomes a technical challenge.

And I would accept that technical challenge -- again, within reason.

But decisions must be made within a certain context, including the fact that decisions must often be made within a specific timeframe, and especially during war. Putting myself in the place of a military commander (while acknowledging my own vast ignorance on military matters), I think that I would ask my staff to find and provide me with a plan to destroy the factory without killing innocents, just as you say.

Yet at some point, if it seems that there is no sound option to do that, I might have to take the option that destroys the factory while accepting the risk (or even certainty) of collateral damage.

As for responsibility, I would of course be responsible for all of my decisions. I could imagine some oversight, perhaps after the war, where I might be questioned about other tactical decisions I might have made that could possibly have saved more innocent lives. I would have to be able to account for the decision that I'd made.

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The definition of terrorism is not targeting civilians. When we firebombed Japan that was not terrorism- that was a bombing campaign. Terrorism is a tactic of war that involves guerilla style-attacks.

 

Targeting civilians can be completely rational- as it was when we used nuclear weapons against Japan. Indeed I would argue that it's often rational in that it's often necessary to secure peace- as it was in Japan and Germany and countless other examples. Also, if you think that this is the definitoin of immorality I'm afraid you either don't understand what it means to hold your own life as the standard or you don't understand that war is a fight for your life.

I agree that the the use of firebombing runs in ww2 were not acts of terrorism.

But you think the attacks on 9/11/01 were guerilla war tactics against military targets? There are several militarty installations within the fuel range and flight path of the hijacked aircraft, the Pentagon notwithstanding. And in keeping with the context of the thread, which state was the US 'at war' with, and of what state(s) were the hijackers agents of ?

Edited by tadmjones

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I've been giving more thought to this topic (or at least the topic of "targeting innocent civilians" as moral), and it has struck me that it incites a lot of passion in me.

Now this comes as no great surprise to me. I cannot speak for others, but for myself I have to tell you that discussions here are often very emotional for me. I have met people in my life who treat philosophical discussion as a kind of game (and some who have even admitted such)... but for me, ideas matter greatly. Ideas have consequence. I am not content to just consider them abstractly, but I try to imagine their real world application, if followed. I take them personally and apply them to my own circumstances, if possible, so that I may truly understand their effects.

As I've made reference to them before, and thus perhaps have already made clear, when I think of "innocents," my first thought is of my wife and daughter. Much of their protection in this world, which is a dangerous world, lies in the fact that they have not initiated the use of force against any other soul. They have caused nobody harm, and therefore I do not expect that anyone should wish harm upon them. Not in reason.

Yet I take some of the ideas expressed in this thread as saying that the innocence of my wife and daughter is not, and ought not, be any moral shield against force. That other people would be perfectly reasonable and moral to initiate the use of force against them, under certain conditions, despite their innocence. What conditions? To achieve political/military ends by hurting the spirit of my countrymen. To me, that sounds like an advocacy of terrorism (not to mention treating other people, and their very lives, as legitimate and disposable means to some other peoples' ends).

Maybe only to me? I grant that this is possible. But look...

The government of the United States gets up to all sorts of things. Sometimes we bomb targets without going to war. Sometimes we go to war without clearing it with Congress. Sometimes we engage in operations secretly. In all of these cases, whether our actions are otherwise justified or justifiable, we wind up killing people (whether collateral damage or not).

When CriticalThinker2000 says this...

 

Targeting civilians can be completely rational- as it was when we used nuclear weapons against Japan. Indeed I would argue that it's often rational in that it's often necessary to secure peace- as it was in Japan and Germany and countless other examples. Also, if you think that this is the definitoin of immorality I'm afraid you either don't understand what it means to hold your own life as the standard or you don't understand that war is a fight for your life.

...I wonder:

Are these people, with whom we fight, also in "a fight for their lives"? By this same rationale, should they not use every available means to defend themselves as well? Should they not wish to break my country's spirit?

Now my infant daughter has surprisingly little influence over American foreign policy, and her contributions to the American military machine are minimal (mostly in the form of biological weapons material; her diapers). While she's nailed me in the face with her toys a time or two, and I'll admit that it has smarted, I don't consider her much in the way of a "fighting force." I don't see how she could be considered a legitimate military target, except that I've seen it argued that her death might strike a blow against my country's fighting spirit. Therefore reasonable. Moral.

I consider this a monstrous argument. I feel like it serves to legitimize countless people who have some beef with America to strike out, not even at military targets, but at my own family. (Or yours.)

I strongly suspect that's not how it's intended or initially conceptualized. Perhaps we view the "innocents" who might be targeted as living in other countries... perhaps somewhere in the Middle East. But the innocents with whom I am most concerned are the ones I know, and I consider that innocence to be a moral protection that must be upheld. I cannot allow that intentionally slaughtering my daughter, when she has not caused anyone else any harm, is ever a moral action. Not even by firebomb, not even by nuclear device.

Could my daughter one day be tragically caught up in events beyond her understanding or responsibility? Yes. It has happened to millions before her, and it will happen to millions to come. If is is accidental or unavoidable (such as our living next door to a weapons factory, attacked during a time of war), I can come to understand such a thing. But if she was targeted intentionally, or if due diligence were not undertaken to avoid hurting/killing my daughter, where possible, then I would not consider the agents involved to be moral in their action. I would consider them to be murderers.

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As I've made reference to them before, and thus perhaps have already made clear, when I think of "innocents," my first thought is of my wife and daughter. Much of their protection in this world, which is a dangerous world, lies in the fact that they have not initiated the use of force against any other soul. They have caused nobody harm, and therefore I do not expect that anyone should wish harm upon them. Not in reason.

 

It turns out that there are plenty of people around the world who would like to kill your wife and daughter because they're not part of an ideology. It has nothing to do with your wife/daughter not initiating force. These people don't care about that.

 

 

Are these people, with whom we fight, also in "a fight for their lives"? By this same rationale, should they not use every available means to defend themselves as well? Should they not wish to break my country's spirit?

 

No, they are not fighting for their lives- they're fighting for an ideology. An ideology that is anti-life. They desire to win and consequently they do desire to break America's spirit.

 

 

I don't see how she could be considered a legitimate military target, except that I've seen it argued that her death might strike a blow against my country's fighting spirit. Therefore reasonable. Moral.

 

Look, no one is saying that it's moral to kill your child. No one is saying that it's moral to bomb Kansas. Even if you're a crazy Muslim. What I'm saying is that sometimes it is moral for a free country to bomb innocent people in defense of the lives of the free country's constituents. Now you want to transfer this over to your daughter?? It's not remotely comparable so in no way shape or form does what I'm saying imply that it's OK to kill innocent americans.

 

 

I cannot allow that intentionally slaughtering my daughter, when she has not caused anyone else any harm, is ever a moral action. Not even by firebomb, not even by nuclear device.

 

No one is saying that it's OK to kill your daughter. Why are you morally equating a free country fighting against anti-life ideologues who want to mutilate your daughter/chop your head off/beat your wife with these same wackjob's desire to win? Just because you want to win a war doesn't mean it's OK to kill civilizans. However, if you are fighting in defense of your life- it is moral to do what is necessary. War is a metaphysical emergency and as such necessitates actions that are not OK in normal circumstances in order to remove the metaphysical threat. It's that simple.

 

 

But if she was targeted intentionally, or if due diligence were not undertaken to avoid hurting/killing my daughter, where possible, then I would not consider the agents involved to be moral in their action. I would consider them to be murderers.

 

And rightfully you should. But I'm mystified as to how you can equate someone coming into America and killing your daughter with America defending itself by bombing the civilian populations that support terrorist regimes. Not all motivations are morally equivalent.

 

Edit: Why was the nuclear bombing of Japan incredibly moral? Because it saved the lives of hundreds of thousands (millions?) of American soldiers who would have had to invade the Japanese homeland. NOT dropping the bomb- sacrificing the lives of Americans for the sake of Japanese- would have been horrifically immoral. That is what it means to be in a metaphysical emergency. There is no good outcome here. There is no win-win possible. And the blood of the dead civilians is on the hands of the Japanese- not the Americans for trying to remove a threat from their own lives.

Edited by CriticalThinker2000

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The militarization of do unto others, i.e., just war theory, attempts to rationalize doing whatever it takes to win a war.  The strength just war argument relies on the calculation that two wrongs don't make it right, suggesting that even in cases where doing unto others leads to atrocities committed by both parties, there remains a moral high road.  At the risk of relying on a work of fiction written by a Mormon about a future war, the following exchange expresses the opposing positions particularly well...

 

"We won, that's all that matters" - Colonel Graff

"No!  The way we win matters" - Ender Wiggins

 

The notion that matters of justice may be disposed of in times of war calls to question the legitimacy of justice in times of peace.

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