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The Morality of Pre-emptive War

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Okay our views are not as far apart as you seem to think. I think you view morality as something out of the Bible, or whatever, while I view it as the same as ethics -- and ethics are for the most part logically derived.

Most of us have a conscience, and it is generally a good guide, but not an infallible one, as it is mainly built from the norms of our culture that we learn as children (there is probably some biological instinct wired in there too). A rational approach to what it tells us to do is needed, based on the principles of utilitarianism and Kantian reasoning if you are not religious, on the principle of love if one is Christian and on the principle of compassion if one is Buddhist.

Such a rational approach to morality is not certain: we can make mistakes, but we must do the best we can.

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Morality and Ethics in a nutshell :P

How it benefits = Good = Positive = Profit(for all you money haters out there :P )

How it hurts = Bad = Negative = Loss

The whole scales of judgement come in to play here along with the value of a fair trade where the proper ratio should be as close to 1 for 1(or an eye for an eye if you will though I don't suggest doing it with actual eyes but capital I's would work as well) as you can get. Morality, Ethics, Laws and Trade are all based on it. (When I saw Laws I mean Just laws not BS Laws we have currently in the US ). If the scales are balanced it is moral, if it does not it is immoral.

I <3 language

It's all the same thing basically(When you look at it objectively). The only time morality gets screwed up is people labeling actions without taking in to consideration everything that is involved with it.(Consent or lack there of can polarize the morality of any action there are a whole slew of things that play with the scales).

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I just cannot accept the idea that there are no absolutes. Is there a country or even a culture that exists that accepts murder? Or stealing? Or rape ? Think about it a moment. Any human being any where will rebel against such behavior being committed against themselves or someone they love. THAT is the basis of morality. The rest is just self justification for wrong doing.

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Murder is just the act of killing without the consent of somebody else.

Stealing is the transfer or property without the consent of somebody else.

Rape is a sexual act with the consent of the somebody else.

Here's the thing though you can actually get people to consent(coercion) to things they wouldn't normally do. Which makes it all the more tricky. The actions are so similar that it is sometimes quite hard to tell the difference.

There are absolutes when it comes to morality, it is just difficult for some people to actually point it out and leads to a bunch of strange rules that people try to push on others. I was trying to make a formula so you can easily figure out moral(Yes, I have weird hobbies that most people would find eccentric) the only constant I could find that was in common with everything relating to morality is consent.

Which is why I asked the questions before about when we should intervene on other people's behalf, because what if they don't consent?

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I don't know if there are absolutes in any moral decision. Take the most extreme evil and if one is clever enough one can always come up with some far-fetched scenario where it would be justified if not morally demanded. Murder is an example -- would you murder Hitler if you had the chance?

People in the West seem wedded to this idea of right and wrong as being 100% affairs, when they never are. We constantly must weigh the goods and harms that come from each act we contemplate. Most of the time there is no real contest, but when there is we have to stop and think.

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Posted (edited)

No, I wouldn't of because situations like that which he was involved in do not occur because of one man alone.

What I would do is go against him politically to make sure it didn't happen and gather my own support so what he did would not of happened. Now if he tried to kill me because of that action I would try to kill him(Think of it as two people consenting to get in a boxing ring except of a knock out it ends in death) and then I would be coming from the moral high ground.

To understand morality you have to be mentally vigilant. Taking short cuts is when things get complicated.

(Actually not simple :P)

Edited by Jinxdom

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I just cannot accept the idea that there are no absolutes. Is there a country or even a culture that exists that accepts murder? Or stealing? Or rape ? Think about it a moment. Any human being any where will rebel against such behavior being committed against themselves or someone they love. THAT is the basis of morality. The rest is just self justification for wrong doing.

For murder and rape there was Sparta with the krypteia, ​ basically young Spartan men who passed the agoge and who where marked at potential leaders where sent into the country side during fall with only a knife and a few simple instructions. Basically the instructions where kill as many slaves as they could at night and steal whatever food they needed. So that removes murder and stealing form your list. As for rape in varies African culture it is customary for the husband to kidnap and rape his future wife till she becomes pregnant. There are many other cultures where murder, theft, and rape are accepted, I admit for the murder and theft I used an extinct culture but I think that still proves the point and I got no doubt I can find a culture today where murder and theft are accepted.

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There are many other cultures where murder, theft, and rape are accepted, I admit for the murder and theft I used an extinct culture but I think that still proves the point and I got no doubt I can find a culture today where murder and theft are accepted.

Until it happens to them, then it is not so acceptable. It's only "accepted" because the people who it really affects don't have the power or knowledge that it can change. If the balance of power were reversed.... I wouldn't want to be those guys who thought it was acceptable.

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I think you have cultural norms confused with genuine right and wrong. The two often coincide, but not always, as your examples show. Genuine right and wrong have to be determined by considering overall harms and helps to all sentient beings. One of the axioms here has got to be that all humans have equal footing.

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That definition of genuine right and wrong doesn't really work. I have no doubt the people who did or do those acts do not consider what they are doing as harmful. Even then how would we define what is considered harmful. The problem is anything that depends on humans is relative.

The problem I have with your axiom about all humans having equal footing is that it requires that humans are equal and I just can't go with that.

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It is perfectly possible to postulate that morally all humans are equal. If you refuse to do so you kinda justify things like genocides and infanticide and slavery, among others.

For the most part we know what is harmful. There are borderline situations, but they are rare enough to be an issue on in theory.

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I can not see how it is possible to postulate humans being morally equal. First the problem of morality being relative has not been resolved so it is different to different people and because of this morality can not be equal because it is not the same between people. Next is the problem of people simply not being equal, it doesn't matter what anyone says, humans are simply not equal. I don't care, nor does it bother me that this justifies genocide, infanticide, slavery, or anything else that can be mentioned. Just because something being true may bring up terrible and awful situation does not make it any less true and accepting it to me false just because of those terrible and awful situations is not a good thing.

Do we even really know what is harmful, the vast majority of people have absolutely no idea what is harmful or beneficial to themselves. If people had even a basic idea of what is harmful you would not see so much self destructive behavior in all societies. Another problem with harm is what is worse, harm to the individual or harm to the group. Things that harm the individual can greatly benefit the group and things that harm the group can greatly benefit the individual, so how would we decide what harm is worse, harm to the individual or harm to the group. Some would say morally it is better for the group to benefit and the few be harm and they could justify that with it is better to benefit the greatest amount of people with doing as little harm as possible, others would say that it is immoral for the group to benefit at the expense of a few and they can justify that with no one should be harmed for another's benefit. This goes exactly back to morality being relative, any maybe to an extent people not being equal in anyway.

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I can not see how it is possible to postulate humans being morally equal. First the problem of morality being relative has not been resolved so it is different to different people and because of this morality can not be equal because it is not the same between people. Next is the problem of people simply not being equal, it doesn't matter what anyone says, humans are simply not equal. I don't care, nor does it bother me that this justifies genocide, infanticide, slavery, or anything else that can be mentioned. Just because something being true may bring up terrible and awful situation does not make it any less true and accepting it to me false just because of those terrible and awful situations is not a good thing.

Do we even really know what is harmful, the vast majority of people have absolutely no idea what is harmful or beneficial to themselves. If people had even a basic idea of what is harmful you would not see so much self destructive behavior in all societies. Another problem with harm is what is worse, harm to the individual or harm to the group. Things that harm the individual can greatly benefit the group and things that harm the group can greatly benefit the individual, so how would we decide what harm is worse, harm to the individual or harm to the group. Some would say morally it is better for the group to benefit and the few be harm and they could justify that with it is better to benefit the greatest amount of people with doing as little harm as possible, others would say that it is immoral for the group to benefit at the expense of a few and they can justify that with no one should be harmed for another's benefit. This goes exactly back to morality being relative, any maybe to an extent people not being equal in anyway.

So if someone raped you or a wife or child, or stole everything you own or slaughtered your loved ones you would not be bothered by this? You would not feel wronged? This is the point, not that there is some empirical standard but rather that humans instinctively have a conscience that tells them what is wrong. I think they call folks lacking that, uh, sociopaths....
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I can not see how it is possible to postulate humans being morally equal. First the problem of morality being relative has not been resolved so it is different to different people and because of this morality can not be equal because it is not the same between people. Next is the problem of people simply not being equal, it doesn't matter what anyone says, humans are simply not equal. I don't care, nor does it bother me that this justifies genocide, infanticide, slavery, or anything else that can be mentioned. Just because something being true may bring up terrible and awful situation does not make it any less true and accepting it to me false just because of those terrible and awful situations is not a good thing.

Do we even really know what is harmful, the vast majority of people have absolutely no idea what is harmful or beneficial to themselves. If people had even a basic idea of what is harmful you would not see so much self destructive behavior in all societies. Another problem with harm is what is worse, harm to the individual or harm to the group. Things that harm the individual can greatly benefit the group and things that harm the group can greatly benefit the individual, so how would we decide what harm is worse, harm to the individual or harm to the group. Some would say morally it is better for the group to benefit and the few be harm and they could justify that with it is better to benefit the greatest amount of people with doing as little harm as possible, others would say that it is immoral for the group to benefit at the expense of a few and they can justify that with no one should be harmed for another's benefit. This goes exactly back to morality being relative, any maybe to an extent people not being equal in anyway.

A little thing called consent. Consent isn't relative. Whoever breaks consent first is the one who is morally wrong. How can that be relative?

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Posted (edited)

So if someone raped you or a wife or child, or stole everything you own or slaughtered your loved ones you would not be bothered by this? You would not feel wronged? This is the point, not that there is some empirical standard but rather that humans instinctively have a conscience that tells them what is wrong. I think they call folks lacking that, uh, sociopaths....

We instinctively have a conscience that is probably lacking in a small group known as "sociopaths" This much is I think well understood.What is a "conscience" and where does it come from? It seems that for the most part the details of what our conscience likes and doesn't like are learned in early childhood and incorporated into our belief systems. This is why some things can be wrong in one culture and accepted in another. In other words, the ability to form a conscience is an inherited trait, the details of what that conscience contains is mostly learned.

(There may be some details of the conscience that are instinctive -- this is a matter of debate).

So, can we depend on our conscience -- our feelings -- to tell us right and wrong? Obviously it is a good starting point, but since some cultures accept some pretty terrible things, we have to say it is not infallible. We need to go beyond our conscience in questionable situations and think through the harms and benefits, based on a rational system.

Utillitarianism in its various forms tends to work pretty well for this, but Kant's ethics are I think much better. The Christian concept of love and the Buddhist concept of compassion, when applied rationally and without self-interest, also are helpful.

Edited by Frank Merton

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Cultural relativism has no absolutes.

In times past it was perfectly ok to murder your wife if she displeases you and your children and slaves were your property to murder or rape as you see fit.

Slave takeing which also heavily involved rape has been considered a duty.

Eating the flesh of an enemy considered an honor.

Every single vial thing has been considered morally acceptable at some point by some culture.

This is not a prescription for morality merely a description.

Just a quick note on free trade.

If party A assigned a utility value of 10 to party B's widget, and a 5 to its own widget, and party B assignes the same to A's And it's own. Party A will trade with party B creating 5 extra utility units for both parties for a total of 10 new units of utility in the world out of a simple act of trade. If it were a 1 to 1 relationship the trade would never have occurred. This is the base of free trade.

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Because someone says something is right or wrong -- indeed, because everyone says it is -- doesn't change what it really is.

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Posted (edited)

Just a quick note on free trade.

If party A assigned a utility value of 10 to party B's widget, and a 5 to its own widget, and party B assignes the same to A's And it's own. Party A will trade with party B creating 5 extra utility units for both parties for a total of 10 new units of utility in the world out of a simple act of trade. If it were a 1 to 1 relationship the trade would never have occurred. This is the base of free trade.

Ratio of 1 to 1 relating to eye for an eye according to a trade, not actually talking about free trade, simply meaning equal value for equal value. A simple barter between two people, a fair deal. Which was really to enforce that the scales of judgement are in every aspect of life and that the average person can learn morality and ethics no matter where one looks, yet people miss the idea of agreements and consent. :P

Seriously do not give consent away freely, it is one of the most powerful things you can do, It can turn 100000lbs of gold into 1 dollar, if you let it. It can make an evil act seem good.

Consent meaning the people the action is done too. Not 10 people saying(Agreeing) it is ok to punch me in face(because I don't agree to it)

Edited by Jinxdom

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Morality is the only way to make important decisions, and it is not relative. We may not be able to discern all the consequences, but generally we can do a good enough job to decide if the consequences are good or bad, moral or immoral. I think saying we should not use morality is a huge cop-out, an attempt to escape moral responsibility.

.

I agree.

when it comes to killing innocents, raping women, or abusing children, then morality is an universal absolute-

you. do. not. do. it.

and morality is only subjective in the minds of the subhumans who commit the offences that the rest of the world find abhorrent.

as to the question of whether a pre-emptive strike can be morally justified, then yes, it can, provided the justification is a real and present danger, and not an imaginary threat.

after all, who wants to enter an ass-kicking contest with a one-legged man....?

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What is a "conscience" and where does it come from?

.

a conscience frank, is that little voice inside you that says-

'be careful, you might get caught...'

;-)

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.

I agree.

when it comes to killing innocents, raping women, or abusing children, then morality is an universal absolute-

you. do. not. do. it.

and morality is only subjective in the minds of the subhumans who commit the offences that the rest of the world find abhorrent.

as to the question of whether a pre-emptive strike can be morally justified, then yes, it can, provided the justification is a real and present danger, and not an imaginary threat.

after all, who wants to enter an ass-kicking contest with a one-legged man....?

I'm going to play devils advocate here because I do think those things are immoral, but if morality is culturally relative an action can only be judged within the context of its own culture. History shows that morality is indeed culturally realativistic and not absolute. It was perfectly ok for Christian, white settlers to scalp little Indian girls and boys and sell them to the us government at one point in American history. or to own slaves. Even some of our founders had slaves.

In ancient Greece a warrior took his boy lover with him on the war campaign because it was considered not right to take his wife or female slaves incase he lost the battle. ( I don't have a citation for this I'm just remembering this from my philosophical ethics course back in my college days)

In some Muslim cultures it's ok to kill your wife if you want.

There was a desert code in the middle east that often gave you the right to kill another person under certain kinds of infractions.

In many army's you were expected to take young slaves after conquering a city and do with them as you will.

In our culture make permiscuity is almost hailed as studly trait, while in others it's a capital offense.

I have heard of one isolated practice on some remote island that is so vial I cannot even mention it here, yet it's a matter of fact part of their culture.

I wrote a huge paper on female genetal mutilation and it's horrors once, yet in practicing cultures it's considered and honor.

The list is endless. Human codes of morality vary from culture to culture and from extreme to extreme. Judging another person by the standards of your own culture is silly. You are probably doing something that is vial to them. You may not understand it, but that is the truth of the matter. There is no universal prescriptive morality. Each culture has its own, though with the evolving global culture, it is changing thank goodness.

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So if someone raped you or a wife or child, or stole everything you own or slaughtered your loved ones you would not be bothered by this? You would not feel wronged? This is the point, not that there is some empirical standard but rather that humans instinctively have a conscience that tells them what is wrong. I think they call folks lacking that, uh, sociopaths....

I never said I would not feel wronged, I grew up and live in a culture where such things are considered immoral. It doesn't matter if I feel like those acts wronged me or not, it doesn't change the fact that morality is still relative. I would also like to point out the stealing thing while it may greatly annoy me I probably wouldn't be that upset, but that is a completely different story. The whole instinctively have a conscience doesn't work at all in this because I have already showed cultures where acts we consider instinctively wrong are considered an every day part of life. I also think you misunderstood a part of what I meant when I said I don't care about the darker side of morality being relative, certain things may bother me but that is because of the culture I live in considers them wrong but accepting the truth that morality is relative and all the dark and troubling things it entails does not bother or concern me in the least because I would rather live with a dark and evil truth then live in a nicer lie.

A little thing called consent. Consent isn't relative. Whoever breaks consent first is the one who is morally wrong. How can that be relative?

Consent doesn't work in this either, no one would deny a soldier killing an enemy would be considered morally acceptable but I can guarantee that the combatant did not give his consent to be killed. That leads to the problem of either consent not being required for all acts which would make it relative, or everything would have an implied consent depending on the culture and situation making it relative anyway. No matter how one tries to argue it, morality is relative.

I think Seeker79 does a pretty good job of explaining why morality i relative.

I have noticed there are a few people here throwing the term sociopath around like it is some terrible, evil thing. First while there have been many horrific crimes done by sociopaths there have also been horrific crimes done by non sociopaths so trying to associate sociopaths with evil does not really work. Also many successful, non violent or evil, people have sociopaths traits because whether people like it or not sociopaths are good at achieving their goals because they don't let things like morality get in their way for things that must be done.

Sorry if this does not make sense, been having a busy week and this is about the 3rd or 4th day I been up for around 20 hours.

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I never said I would not feel wronged, I grew up and live in a culture where such things are considered immoral. It doesn't matter if I feel like those acts wronged me or not, it doesn't change the fact that morality is still relative. I would also like to point out the stealing thing while it may greatly annoy me I probably wouldn't be that upset, but that is a completely different story. The whole instinctively have a conscience doesn't work at all in this because I have already showed cultures where acts we consider instinctively wrong are considered an every day part of life. I also think you misunderstood a part of what I meant when I said I don't care about the darker side of morality being relative, certain things may bother me but that is because of the culture I live in considers them wrong but accepting the truth that morality is relative and all the dark and troubling things it entails does not bother or concern me in the least because I would rather live with a dark and evil truth then live in a nicer lie.

Consent doesn't work in this either, no one would deny a soldier killing an enemy would be considered morally acceptable but I can guarantee that the combatant did not give his consent to be killed. That leads to the problem of either consent not being required for all acts which would make it relative, or everything would have an implied consent depending on the culture and situation making it relative anyway. No matter how one tries to argue it, morality is relative.

I think Seeker79 does a pretty good job of explaining why morality i relative.

I have noticed there are a few people here throwing the term sociopath around like it is some terrible, evil thing. First while there have been many horrific crimes done by sociopaths there have also been horrific crimes done by non sociopaths so trying to associate sociopaths with evil does not really work. Also many successful, non violent or evil, people have sociopaths traits because whether people like it or not sociopaths are good at achieving their goals because they don't let things like morality get in their way for things that must be done.

Sorry if this does not make sense, been having a busy week and this is about the 3rd or 4th day I been up for around 20 hours.

I think we are not communicating. But I respect your opinion on this, though I would never want to live in a world where that opinion was the only one. I cannot imagine being at home in a place where rape, murder and theft were casual occurrences that did not trouble a human being.

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