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Eamon Arasbard

Preemptive war and innocent casualties

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No, that's the non-initiation of force principle. If I were you, I would start with figuring out the difference.

It's not at all unclear that Eamon is talking about non-initiation of force as a moral principle in politics. It really doesn't matter to say that many people use it as an overarcing absolutist rule, we're talking about Rand's treatment of non-initiation/non-aggression as a principle. It's better to engage Eamon's premises and thoughts, and talk about non-combatant casualties in war. I mean, really, aggression is initiation of force... If your point is aggression is less precise and might imply any use of force, fine. Doesn't change the discussion in any way. 

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It's not at all unclear that Eamon is talking about non-initiation of force as a moral principle in politics. It really doesn't matter to say that many people use it as an overarcing absolutist rule, we're talking about Rand's treatment of non-initiation/non-aggression as a principle. It's better to engage Eamon's premises and thoughts, and talk about non-combatant casualties in war. I mean, really, aggression is initiation of force... If your point is aggression is less precise and might imply any use of force, fine. Doesn't change the discussion in any way.

Yes, it does. If you decided to stop using the word aggression, and instead used initiation of force, it would've been obvious that, in a dictatorship, it's the dictator who used force first. And "to initiate" means to start the use of force.

 

Arguing that a person responding to the use of force is initiating force would've probably been too absurd even for Eamon. So that would've probably been the end of the thread. Instead, you're two pages in and getting nowhere, with the guy still convinced that Ayn Rand had an issue with the US invading a foreign country to remove a dictator.

 

I'd say that's a pretty big difference.

Edited by Nicky

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In war, I agree that collateral damage is unavoidable.  But I disagree that what you call "the non-aggression principle" (insofar as that simply reflects Rand's writing, quoted elsewhere in the thread) implies that it is "immoral to do anything that will lead to collateral damage."  There is a (key and crucial) difference between targeting a person, and that person suffering through accident/mistake/or unavoidable happenstance, as I thought we've previously agreed.

 

It would be immoral if we accept moral absolutism as a standard for how to wage a war. I do agree with you that collateral damage is different from intentional or avoidable killing of innocents, and that it not the moral fault of the party defending itself.

 

What I meant by the statement you quoted is that if we reject the non-aggression principle (Or non-initiation of force) as an absolute constraint on the actions of people fighting a dictatorship, then the best moral principle to follow is utilitarianism, which in this case means minimization of harm. (Though maybe utilitarianism isn't the best term to use, because we are acting on a fundamental moral principle; but upholding justice against a tyrannical government in the way that will cause the least amount of suffering to the people we're trying to help.)

 

I also think, if we accept that it's only moral to use force against aggressors, then any unnecessary collateral damage is a violation of that principle.

 

...and especially since I feel that I've expressed myself nearly to the point of repetition (which is usually the place to bow out, I find).

 

It may be best for us to stop arguing over this, for now. I'll keep responding to Eiuol, though, and anyone else who comes on and is willing to discuss this topic in a civil manner.

 

I think we both agree that it is unjust for dictators to remain in power, though, and that causing avoidable collateral damage in the process of removing dictators is wrong. Our disagreement seems to be on what 1) we consider to be avoidable collateral damage, and 2) who should make that judgment. Might be good to discuss it another time.

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