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Pre-emptive War: e.g. Should we nuke Tehran?

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By 'social needs' - you mean individual rights, right? (Were you uneasy to use a proper term? - I mean I would have choked on it as well)

Yes, I meant individual rights. I used "social needs" instead to point out that rights are needs, and that we have no obligation to serve the needs of the enemy. Rights are inalienable in the sense that everyone shares the need for freedom. A government is formed to serve those needs for the citizens within its boundaries. So to answer your question (that you asked of someone?), yes, the citizens of an aggressor nation still have individual rights in the sense that they still have a need for freedom in a social context. But this does not mean that a defending nation is morally bound to provide for those needs, to respect and defend their rights.

--Dan Edge

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Are you asking for an exhaustive list, or a general characterization? I assume you know what "threat" means; then threatening the US is making a threat against the US (in part or in whole). For exampl

I'm aware of most of those imaginary claims you consider "knowledge of the situation". I just happen to know they're not real, so I don't consider them when passing judgement on Iran.

If this was true it would be an easy matter to overthrow oppressive states. This won't work because you have reversed cause and effect. Philosophy is what drives history. It is the funda

Regarding whether it is ethical for innocents in an aggressor nation to fight against the military of the defending nation in order to survive: I would say definitely yes, in some contexts. If I were stuck in some dictatorship which I opposed, and a bunch of soldiers (whose nation I supported) dropped from the sky and attacked me and my family, then - no hard feelings, grunts - I would fight to the death, and feel good about it. Sure, they have a right to kill me, but that doesn't mean I'm going to sit around and let them do it.

This is similar to being in a flood or other disaster zone. Is it immoral to break into Walmart and take food in order to stay alive? If you refused to do it on principle, preferring to die along with your wife and kids, you'd be a fool.

--Dan Edge

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I don't want to go over the same arguments. I would like someone to address my question, to address the issue of inalienability of human rights. It is already established that the means must also be morally evaluated.

I think I've addressed the key issues as I see them in the debate.

1. You are treating the rights argument as if you just found these innocents in a state of nature, dropping the context of what actions they took or were taking and how they would then view a defending nation. Criminals have rights too, but we take some of them away because of social context. My argument is not that innocents deserve this (not a form of justice) but rather that context confers the moral responsiblity differently.

2. By continuing to argue that somehow maximum force is what military science dictates and that thusly morality should bound the analysis when in reality military science bounds the problem, and by implication, causes a moral evaluation.

I am saying that military science would dictate that maximum force is rarely an "effective" means to an objective, (just as overeating is rarely an effective means to health), and so, by implication, is immoral.

The difference I believe is not that I would have rampaging military destroying everything in it's path, but that you would hobble our military leaders and soldiers with moral indecision right at the moment they needed it most. If you can explain to me how moral certainty, the kind needed in war, is acheived with your analysis, I would consider it.

Just for example, regarding human shields, I believe the proper policy with regard to human shields should be a publically stated policy that when human shields are used by the enemy that the use of overwhelming force will escalate. That is, let it be known that if you use a human shield, we will rain down death upon you. Your death will be certain. We will not only not hesitate, but we will go out of our way to accelerate your death. This was the same sort of policy that Sherman articulated. If you resist us we will go out of our way to crush you. This woudl be an incredible behavior deterrent to the use of human shields. Any enemy soldier with even a modicum of self-interest woudl think twice if he knew snipers would specifically target him if he used a human shield.

I don't think this is compatible with what you are arguing. You see, people use human shields because they hope for your moment of indecision, and leaders use it as a propaganda tool so that they can mire you down in the debate, which you yourself would argue is proper, of whether or not you are using the most effective, and most discriminatory means of fighting the war.

So I'm curious as to how you would handle it.

As to all the rest of your rebuttals, I'm happy to go point by point. You misunderstood the issues in several, but it seems that this is not what you are doing.

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There's a lot of other stuff here to comment on too, but before I go to work...

I don't think you've made the case that this:

you have the right to fight a dictatorship, leave it, or die trying
leads to this
The point is that while you have a right to shoot at the [dictatorship's] border guards, you do not have the right to shoot at the [attacking] American bombers.
If you attempt to vanquish your dictatorship and fail, why would that mean you have to passively sit back and watch as foreigners ignite you and your loved ones?

IMO it's entirely different if a means of saving oneself is offered by the foreigners, but if their tactics require mass killings of civilians, why would that mean they are morally obligated to not resist being killed???

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Hello All,

I struggled with this issue for a long time, and a few years ago I was much more on Moose's side of the argument. But recent events and articles have changed my mind. For those of you have not read them, I highly recommend these relevant articles: "Just War Theory" vs. American Self-Defense by Alex Epstein and Yaron Brook, William Tecumseh Sherman and the Moral Impetus for Victory by John Lewis, and No Substitute for Victory also by John Lewis.

Also, Craig Biddle of The Objective Standard responded to a question I sent in several months back about the rights of civilians in war. His answer is here.

--Dan Edge

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Thanks Dan, this is also where I am obtaining food for thought on the matter.

Just to further clarify the comment I made to Sophia. something Aquelasa pointed to made start thinking about the epistemological implications of what Sophia is arguing, and this is where I am starting to have really big issues.

I think the two approaches in many cases come out with similar means to similar ends, but I think the argument that Sophia and Moose are posing leads to an epistemological mess.

That is, it puts the moral evaluation at the wrong level of the analysis. That is, it turns every military decision, every general's strategic decision, every soldiers tactical decision into a moral cost-benefit analysis. Now, one could certainly argue that these decisions are all moral decisions, they all require philosophy. However, that is not by explicitly inserting the philosophical analysis into every decision. This is where I think moral clarity is bound to be compromised, and where it is clear that the articles Dan points to land on the other side of the debate clearly. A general's moral obligation is to secure the rights of the people of his country, and to not sacrifice his men in the process. Period.

Military science then determines the nature of war, and the proper methods to used in reaching that objective. If I then say, oh no, every miltary decision is also a moral decision, I am actually epistemologically destroying the whole purpose of philosophical principles in the first place. That is, to provide the boundaries (ie. the principles) and then let the sciences help me determine the nature of reality.

It is as if I have said (and I am not trying to put words in anyone's mouth here, just reflecting how I hear it), "It is moral to nourish your body" and the response is "Oh, Kendall, how can you possibly imply that eating anything you want is moral?". Well, I didn't. Eating anything you want is probably immoral in most cases, but it is up to the science of nutrition to tell me whether that is the case. By analogy I would be entirely stunned if somewhere in ancient military science the maxim "Use the minimum amount of force (i.e. resources) to maximum effect." isn't a very well entrenched (I haven't read Sun Tzu, but if the idea isn't int here somewhere, I'll eat my hat). The use of force is by it's nature rationally self-limiting because it is costly. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not uses of maximum force. Maximum force would have been raining down incendiary bombs, and a full scale invasion of Japan. Don't confuse a display of the potential of maximum force, with maximum force itself.

So I have some questions for Sophia and Moose:

1. How many rights violations (innocent deaths) makes a particular strategy acceptable?

2. Given two different strategies, one which risks more of my men (and by implication, expends more of my resources which cannot be used to fight the enemy), but saves more "innocent" lives, both of which could acheive an objecitve, how many of my men lost is a sacrifice (i.e. too many) vs. the number of rights violations of the "innocents"?

You see, by casting this as some sort of rights value judgement, you insert an explicit moral analysis in every decision. Also, since it becomes a value judgement, and we know value is contextual, you allow any critic to come back and reweigh the calculus and retroactively claim that any strategy might have been an immoral act (as Moebius has so clearly done with what is most clearly a completely moral act, Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

I don't understand what concerns you with the analysisc casted the other way? What outcome do you think will happen that is so different from your analysis? I realize we're not pragmatists here, but we do have to integrate with reality. I've already indicated the epistemological problems I think are raised with the operatiionalizing of your approach. These will by their nature lead to moral certainty problems in our leaders, I believe.

How is it differnt if I say, "Yes, the excessive use of force, by implication, is immoral", and you say "The excessive use of force is immoral."?

Edited by KendallJ
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But I mean, it's still a controversial issue. Whether the atomic bombing was a moral act really depends on the context -- which in this case is disputed. Personally I believe that Japan would have surrendered anyway, therefore the atom bombing was probably immoral.

Whoa there. Morality can't require omniscience as its standard, can it? It's great that you would have not dropped it given what you know about the situation, but you have to argue immorality from the standpoint of the intell at the time. You've got hte chain of events rights?

July 26th - Potsdam Declaration - call for unconditional surrender

Aug 6 - Hiroshima (Truman calls for unconditional surrender as per Potsdam, and states what will happen if not)

Aug 9 - Nagasaki

From what I see, the Japanese did not "sue" for peace in the meantime. They were still debating it when #2 dropped. And they still proposed terms even after #2.

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Yes, exactly.

They're responsible for what they do: which is, stay in harm's way and/or support a warmongering dictatorship through their taxes, etc. The dictatorship is responsible for killing them.

Taxes are rarely -given-. They are generally taken as loot. Is a person responsible for what was stolen from him?

Bob Kolker

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Taxes are rarely -given-. They are generally taken as loot. Is a person responsible for what was stolen from him?

Bob Kolker

No, but you are responsible for how you act about the theft. In the context of his thread, if you know the money that was taxed (or, as you say, stolen) from you is being used for immoral things (like unjust war), it is your responsibility to act - to flee, to fight or to stay. Either way, you are responsible for your choice.

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Jesus on ice skates, this thread has ballooned. I didn't realize what I would spark when I made a reply that was about 2 weeks late. Needless to say, I'm not about to answer everything that has been posted since my last post, but I might jump in again if the spirit moves me.

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No, but you are responsible for how you act about the theft. In the context of his thread, if you know the money that was taxed (or, as you say, stolen) from you is being used for immoral things (like unjust war), it is your responsibility to act - to flee, to fight or to stay. Either way, you are responsible for your choice.

I think there is a point of confusion regarding the term "responsibility". It does not mean you are responsible for the immoral actions of the whole country. It means you must be willing to pay the price for what your own actions might lead to in the given immoral circumstance. Like Roark being willing to go to prison as the result of his blowing up a building.

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I would fight to the death, and feel good about it. Sure, they have a right to kill me, but that doesn't mean I'm going to sit around and let them do it.

I disagree. You should run away, not fight back. You should surrender. You should have gotten your posterior out of there before it came to that.

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Hello All,

I struggled with this issue for a long time, and a few years ago I was much more on Moose's side of the argument. But recent events and articles have changed my mind. For those of you have not read them, I highly recommend these relevant articles: "Just War Theory" vs. American Self-Defense by Alex Epstein and Yaron Brook, William Tecumseh Sherman and the Moral Impetus for Victory by John Lewis, and No Substitute for Victory also by John Lewis.

Also, Craig Biddle of The Objective Standard responded to a question I sent in several months back about the rights of civilians in war. His answer is here.

--Dan Edge

Don't forget John Lewis's: The Moral Goodness of the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima

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I don't think you've made the case that this:leads to thisIf you attempt to vanquish your dictatorship and fail, why would that mean you have to passively sit back and watch as foreigners ignite you and your loved ones?

IMO it's entirely different if a means of saving oneself is offered by the foreigners, but if their tactics require mass killings of civilians, why would that mean they are morally obligated to not resist being killed???

You can dodge the bombs, but it would be immoral to kill Americans in your defense. The point is that you've made your bed. You made the choice to not resist or flee the dictatorship. If you are in fact a resistance fighter whose efforts have so far failed, why would you shoot back at the Americans? That is essentially a friendly-fire incident. Would American soldiers shoot back at other Americans in a friendly fire incident?

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Yes, I meant individual rights. I used "social needs" instead to point out that rights are needs, and that we have no obligation to serve the needs of the enemy.

I find your terminology little shocking. My right to life is not a social need, neither is my right to freedom.

Individual rights are moral principles - they are means of subordinating society to moral law - which is especially crucial in times of a conflict.

individual - existing as a distinct entity

right - being in accordance with what is just, good, or proper; conforming to facts or truth

vs.

social - relating to society

needs- physiological or psychological requiremens for the well-being of an organism; a condition requiring relief

Nobody was advocating serving their needs or providing them with anything - just not killing them indiscriminately (this thread is about the morality of using nuclear weapons).

Rights are inalienable in the sense that everyone shares the need for freedom.

Inalienable means - incapable of being alienated/taken away/cancelled/lost.

A government is formed to serve those needs for the citizens within its boundaries.

Government is formed to protect/guard human rights and certainly NOT to serve human 'social' needs.

So to answer your question (that you asked of someone?), yes, the citizens of an aggressor nation still have individual rights in the sense that they still have a need for freedom in a social context.

We are talking here about the right to keep their life.

But this does not mean that a defending nation is morally bound to provide for those needs, to respect and defend their rights.

Again we are not talking here about providing anything (or defending) - just not killing them.

Every human is morally bound to respect human rights.

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It absolutely can be when their "unalienable rights" are in conflict with your own. War is by defintion the circumstance where this conflict of interests exists on a grand scale.

Inalienable rights. Moral principles become even more crucial in times of conflict. In a civilized society force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. The ethical principle involved is clear-cut - how much force you are justified to use? Only as much as you need to defend yourself.

Two different paths, one using excessive force and the other not, will not achieve the same results.

They don't have the same outcomes -you right but they can achieve the same military objectives of destroying necessary targets.

The question of which path is correct comes one step before that when deciding how much of a threat that country is.

Yes, that is a part of the decision. If you objectively need this much force to protect yourself - then you are justified to use it.

But you are not justified to use this much force regardless of circumstances - just because your goal is moral.

Maybe they need a light spanking or maybe they need four nukes. It is still a matter of military strategy and not a particular principle.

No it is a matter of both.

If the rational president of the rational country....

When you find a country like that - let me know. I want to move there.

Broken down, your argument is resting on the assumption that the "rational" country, did irrational things. Quite obviously one "rational" country invading another rational country for the purpose of genocide is not properly identified as rational.

Rational country would have never allowed a situation to escalate to the point of needing to use nuclear weapons. Rantional country would not have acted against their own interest by allowing dictatorships to survive or empowering its enemies.

It is because we don't live in a world with rational countries (not even one) that has gotten in a situation we are in.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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Regarding whether it is ethical for innocents in an aggressor nation to fight against the military of the defending nation in order to survive: I would say definitely yes, in some contexts. If I were stuck in some dictatorship which I opposed, and a bunch of soldiers (whose nation I supported) dropped from the sky and attacked me and my family, then - no hard feelings, grunts - I would fight to the death, and feel good about it. Sure, they have a right to kill me, but that doesn't mean I'm going to sit around and let them do it.

This is similar to being in a flood or other disaster zone. Is it immoral to break into Walmart and take food in order to stay alive? If you refused to do it on principle, preferring to die along with your wife and kids, you'd be a fool.

--Dan Edge

I agree. I don't think they have a right to oppose the military when not attacked. If they can surrender - they should. But when under physical attack - they have a right to guard their own life.

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1. You are treating the rights argument as if you just found these innocents in a state of nature, dropping the context of what actions they took or were taking and how they would then view a defending nation.

I am not. I am considering the context of a war.

Criminals have rights too, but we take some of them away because of social context.

Criminals are a different category. When one violates other's rights - other's need not respect theirs.

My argument is not that innocents deserve this (not a form of justice) but rather that context confers the moral responsiblity differently.

In times of conflict (and especially so) - we are still bound by moral principles of rights and of self defence.

2. By continuing to argue that somehow maximum force is what military science dictates and that thusly morality should bound the analysis when in reality military science bounds the problem, and by implication, causes a moral evaluation.

I did not say that maxium force is what military science dictates. I said that moral principles place a limit on how much force we are justified to use in self defence (this applies to both individuals and governments). Therefore, what level of force should be used is not ONLY a tactical decision but also a moral decision. There maybe a time when a situation may call for the use of nuclear weapons (and not only because "they are nuking us as well") but that level of force is NOT justified by default.

I am saying that military science would dictate that maximum force is rarely an "effective" means to an objective, (just as overeating is rarely an effective means to health), and so, by implication, is immoral.

Excessive overeating does not harm others and it is immoral not because it is not an effective way of reaching an objective but because it is harmful.

Maximum force is not immoral regardless of context.

The difference I believe is not that I would have rampaging military destroying everything in it's path, but that you would hobble our military leaders and soldiers with moral indecision right at the moment they needed it most. If you can explain to me how moral certainty, the kind needed in war, is acheived with your analysis, I would consider it.

We are discussing here - the decision of using nuclear weapons. Such decisions are made by military and country leaders.

Just for example, regarding human shields, I believe the proper policy with regard to human shields should be a publically stated policy that when human shields are used by the enemy that the use of overwhelming force will escalate. That is, let it be known that if you use a human shield, we will rain down death upon you. Your death will be certain. We will not only not hesitate, but we will go out of our way to accelerate your death. This was the same sort of policy that Sherman articulated. If you resist us we will go out of our way to crush you. This woudl be an incredible behavior deterrent to the use of human shields. Any enemy soldier with even a modicum of self-interest woudl think twice if he knew snipers would specifically target him if he used a human shield.

I would support such policy. Made it wide known what the consequences are.

I very much support tough laws when it comes to criminal activity.

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That is, it puts the moral evaluation at the wrong level of the analysis. That is, it turns every military decision, every general's strategic decision, every soldiers tactical decision into a moral cost-benefit analysis.

No.

We have already covered the fact that the means are not exempt from moral evaluation (they never are unless there is no moral option available).

Moral cost-benefit analysis implies that one is looking for ways to get away morally with as much as one can. I am not assuming that of any general. But general's decisions are not outside of the moral law. He needs to take everything into consideration: how much threat he is faced with, what is required to defend his nation/remove the threat, what is available to him in terms of resources, and how much force he needs to use to reach that goal. What he objectively needs - he is justified to use.

He is however not justified to use excess for reasons I have given - because he is bound by moral principles like everybody else.

However, that is not by explicitly inserting the philosophical analysis into every decision.

Every human decision, when a moral choice is available - lies in the sphere of morality. You don't need to over-analyze every trivial thing in your life, it is not difficult to almost automatically know that is right when it comes to simple issues but you certainly ought to consider philosophy when it comes to more complex matters and certainly when other's rights are relevant.

This is not a small matter - we are discussing the use of nuclear weapons.

This is where I think moral clarity is bound to be compromised, and where it is clear that the articles Dan points to land on the other side of the debate clearly.

Clarity is always compromised when people don't think on the level of principles. Principles is what brings clarity to complex issues.

A general's moral obligation is to secure the rights of the people of his country, and to not sacrifice his men in the process. Period.

I have never advocated any such thing. False dichotomy with our current military technology.

Military science then determines the nature of war, and the proper methods to used in reaching that objective. If I then say, oh no, every miltary decision is also a moral decision, I am actually epistemologically destroying the whole purpose of philosophical principles in the first place. That is, to provide the boundaries (ie. the principles) and then let the sciences help me determine the nature of reality.

I have explained above which decisions are moral decisions. A principle is a comprehensive and fundamental law, a rule or code of conduct. Cherry picking which principles are convinent to obey and which are not - negates the purpose of morality.

A principle can tell you that you have a moral right to achieve a certain goal - like happiness. But you need other principles to know - which way of going about achieving it - is moral and which is not. Morality applies to both the goals and means of achieving goals.

So I have some questions for Sophia and Moose:

1. How many rights violations (innocent deaths) makes a particular strategy acceptable?

This is not how this is measured. The measure is: can I achieve the same military objective using less force? If the answer is yes - then in light of the fact that innocent lives will be lost, it should be used.

2. Given two different strategies, one which risks more of my men (and by implication, expends more of my resources which cannot be used to fight the enemy), but saves more "innocent" lives, both of which could acheive an objecitve, how many of my men lost is a sacrifice (i.e. too many) vs. the number of rights violations of the "innocents"?

These days, with our current technology, there is little rational reason to have soldiers on the ground (there maybe some). It is mostly due to altruistic reasons that they are out there.

We are talking on a scale here of destroying a desired target vs. nuking half the country.

You see, by casting this as some sort of rights value judgement, you insert an explicit moral analysis in every decision. Also, since it becomes a value judgement, and we know value is contextual, you allow any critic to come back and reweigh the calculus and retroactively claim that any strategy might have been an immoral act (as Moebius has so clearly done with what is most clearly a completely moral act, Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

Neither you nor I believe in subjectivity of decisions and we both acknowledge that errors can happen.

What concerns you?

I am greatly concerned with the assertion that "once we declare a moral war - any means of achieving victory are moral".

Also, with "we don't need to respect or acknowledge other's rights when in times of conflict"

Such statements are contradiction to what I have learned about philosophy, especially morality/ethics.

What also concerns me (and probably more) is that some here, having an above average philosophical understanding, don't see a problem with such statements.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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To summarize my position:

1) when it comes to the principle of discrimination

- I don't agree that targeting civilians is always immoral/prohibited insted it can be done if "you are forced to chose between properly defending yourself and acting morally".

- I don't believe that this rule absolutely forbids the use of weapons of mass destruction

I think discrimination should be employed but NOT when it becomes self sacrificial. NOT when it results in not defending yourself properly.

2) principle of proportionality

Just say NO.

3) the principle of minimum force - limit excessive and unnecessary death

Absolutely as explained why.

I am less concerned with limiting of destruction (infrastructure)

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I find your terminology little shocking.

Why? Where did you think he got it from?

QUOTE('The Objectivist Newsletter: Vol. 2 No. 6 June+ 1963

Check Your Premises: Collectivized "Rights"

By Ayn Rand')

In "Man's Rights," I covered the following points: A "right" is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context, i.e., freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men.

The source of rights is neither mystical nor social; rights, like morality, are derived from man's nature and are a necessity of a rational being's mode of survival.

Rights are needs - objective requirements of man's life - in a social context. What his life requires, socially. (i.e. to be free from others) Thus, "social needs."

Edited by Inspector
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Criminals are a different category. When one violates other's rights - other's need not respect theirs.

That's the point - by being a part of a country that violates your rights - they are violating your rights. It is as if a dictator put a gun to their head and told them to kill you. You have the moral right to kill them, and it is the fault of the dictator. You have no moral responsibility to hesitate on their behalf - even if they did not want this to be. If there is a military need to kill them - if it is the most efficacious and least costly/risky to the moral country's army to kill them - then there should be not the slightest hesitation.

I am less concerned with limiting of destruction (infrastructure)

Why? Property is life.

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Part of the point of bombing civilian targets is to force a choice on the civilian populaces. It is a message: "You have so far tolerated this dictatorship in fear of your lives, but that choice now threatens us and we will not tolerate it. If you do not overthrow your government, then you will die by our hand." We are eliminating the possibility of tolerating the dictatorship. It is already a metaphysical fact that a dictatorship means their death and if they aren't trying to overthrow or escape it then they are evading this fact. We are simply making this fact more immediate and obvious to them.

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This is not how this is measured. The measure is: can I achieve the same military objective using less force? If the answer is yes - then in light of the fact that innocent lives will be lost, it should be used.

Ah be careful here. You said the fundamental issue was one of rights violations, (i.e. the use of force against the "innocent"), not the magnitude of the use of force (out of context). That is why I phrased the question as I did. I am sure you would agree that if I had two options that were neutral in terms of innocent lives, but one used greater force and saved more of my men's lives that this would be proper morally.

You are implying a moral weighing of one interest against another. I want to see your "mental math" here.

These days, with our current technology, there is little rational reason to have soldiers on the ground (there maybe some). It is mostly due to altruistic reasons that they are out there.

We are talking on a scale here of destroying a desired target vs. nuking half the country.

Well, the lack of a need for "boots on the gound" has been touted as the "wave of the future" since the beginning of the last century, and has yet to be proven. Regardless, this is a sidestep. I do want to see your mental math here. It surprises me that given that you have clearly stated the moral principles you would not want to show me the operationalizing of this decision process. So let me re-ask the question: "For those cases (which you admit there are some) that require this decision to be made, what is your answer, [General]"

I am greatly concerned with the assertion that "once we declare a moral war - any means of achieving victory are moral".

Also, with "we don't need to respect or acknowledge other's rights when in times of conflict"

Such statements are contradiction to what I have learned about philosophy, especially morality/ethics.

What also concerns me (and probably more) is that some here, having an above average philosophical understanding, don't see a problem with such statements.

Well, one I haven't stated either of these things, but the fact that you continue to assert that this is the argument you are fighting troubles me.

What would concern me if I was in your shoes is that entire organizations (I am speaking here of ARI, The Objective Standard, etc.) of men and women who have studied Rand's philosophy more than you or I is clearly not on your side. The articles that Dan showed are pretty darn unequivocal about this issue. I am not trying to appeal to authority as a replacement for what I've already presented as a fundamental argument, but it is a side issue.

We have already covered the fact that the means are not exempt from moral evaluation (they never are unless there is no moral option available).

Please understand, I am not taking issue here with the fact that these are not moral decisions, but rather the way in which morality impinges on the actual decision making process. If you think that I have said they are exempt from moral evaluation, then please. You are misunderstanding me, and fighting some other straw man out there.

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Criminals are a different category. When one violates other's rights - other's need not respect theirs.

Inalienable means - incapable of being alienated/taken away/cancelled/lost.

This is what I find troubling and to me indicative of dropped context. To one person, you give an unqualified "incapable" and to me you give a very contextual indication where rights are most certainly taken away. Unless by "need not respect" you mean that a criminal still has his rights even though I "dont' respect" them. (If this is the case, then I can certainly not respect the rights of innocents in war, and you can't tell me I've taken away their rights).

I know criminals are different Sophia, but I was going at your rights argument. There most certainly are contexts where I either am not bound to respect the rights of others or they lose them, are there not? This was my point with the criminals issue.

When you say that you are considering the "context of war", what does that mean? Many people (including me) have made the claim to you that that specifically means that the context of the actions of "supposed" innocents up to and during a war that their country has started is relevant to the moral analysis. You have rejected this. This is the context you are dropping. This is the context that RAND herself considers in justifying this position. Consider here, here, as have already been presented and here (not Rand quote). I would respectfully submit that this is the context you are dropping, and to please reconsider the rights analysis with this context included.

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