3 years ago: YNATKC, part 3,798

April 6, 2010, on this blog: YNATKC, part 3,798

The real world complicates every simple principle and that any meaningful or lasting principle has to account for those complications. But when someone’s first impulse is to cavil and dilute and disqualify by qualification, I’m not convinced that their objections are raised in good faith.

For those who are, in fact, harrumphing in good faith, I’m perfectly willing to calibrate the principle more precisely, something like: You’re not allowed to target noncombatants primarily and intentionally.

What that means, of course, is neither more nor less than this: You’re not allowed to kill civilians.

  • Victor Savard

    (((What that means, of course, is neither more nor less than this: You’re not allowed to kill civilians.)))

    Hey Fred! If YA ask “ME”, “ME” and “ME”, we gods think that that is a very good policy to live by in reality cause that’s how we also try to live “IT” in the spiritual world NOW!

    HI! High Victor! Please come here for a godly momment cause we goldly 98 % cells of your flesh want to talk to you preach her, “I” mean preacher!

    STOP “IT” sinner vic cause YA know that “LOVE” is no longer what “IT” was “ONCE” considered to be and most of U>S so called usual sinning godly cells don’t agree that http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ra38xzoNHV0 cause the alien gods won’t accept “IT” any longer if YA know what me, myself and i mean NOW?

    Don’t worry bout “IT” Victor! As usual, we gods will leed the way so in other “Words”, we’ll just play “IT” by hear here cause Fred spoke to a few of his leading godly cells and they told U>S that anything we gods want to say here is OK and besides all of his followers still “LOVE” U>S NOW!

    STOP “IT” sinner vic cause YA know that “LOVE” is no longer what “IT” was “ONCE” considered to be and most of your so called godly cat lick sinning cells don’t agree that http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ra38xzoNHV0 cause the alien gods won’t accept “IT” that WAY NOW!

    OK! Grant YA! You got something there Victor butt for arguement sake, we godly cells must say that they still love YA as much as they ever did here on this “Left Behind” planet that Fred talks so much about so why can’t YA agrees with U>S godly come press feminine cells into a manly god and agree that we http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=majPcFjnwHc if we didn’t work to get her NOW!

    STOP WAISTING YOUR TIME sinner vic CAUSE YOU’RE FULL OF “IT” AND MY SOUL AND JESUS “ONE” % Cells WANT NOTHING TO DO WITH “IT” CAUSE YOU’RE JUST http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EhmXpariyU NOW!

    Have your WAY Victor butt we gods were going to give you your own cept her, I mean ceptor NOW!

    Really sinner vic?

    Yep! We gods even checked with some of the old Canadian hockey gods like http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/ron-maclean-spills-the-puck-in-don-cherry-saga/article2196244/ and they agreed that your new ceptor should be a hockey stick and being the gods that we are, we’re going to throw in a super hockey player to boot NOW!

    Tell me more! Tell me more!

    Yep her! We gods checked around and “IT” just happened to be a French player who goes by the name of Round hell but some alien humans gods call him Puck off and if ya don’t believe “ME”, “ME” and “ME” just check with The Penguins NOW!

    Really Victor! We gods are starting to LOVE this Jesus of yours http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=18142394&postID=8516266288383586158

    http://ncronline.org/node/49181

    OK! I better stop cause FearlessSon might stop to love me NOW!

    Go Figure NOW! :)

    Peace

    OK! I better stop cause FearlessSon might stop to love me NOW!

    Go Figure NOW! :)

    Peace

  • Victor Savard

    Victor! Ya forgot this!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JmgIDMHYzg
    Thanks sinner vic!
    NOW that’s LOVE! :)
    Peace

  • aunursa

    You’re not allowed to target noncombatants primarily and intentionally.

    What that means, of course, is neither more nor less than this: You’re not allowed to kill civilians.

    No, those means two different things. The first means that you’re allowed to have operations in which there is a chance that civilians will be killed. The second means that you’re not allowed to have such operations, because if civilians are killed even unintentionally, well you’re violating a law of warfare.

    Among the options for the operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden was for the U.S. military simply to bomb the complex. President Obama gave serious consideration to the bombing option, but ultimately (and wisely) chose to send a SEAL team — for a number of reasons (ensure that bin Laden was killed, gather photos and DNA to prove it, gather intel info, etc.) But if the prohibition is against killing civilians no matter what, then the option to bomb the complex would not have been legal, because it would almost certainly have resulted in civilian deaths, and many more than the option that was chosen.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    You’re not allowed to kill civilians. If you find yourself killing civilians you have done wrong. You may have achieved a great good in the process. You may have saved many more lives than the ones you took. You may have done the best you could have done given the circumstances. But you have still done wrong. You’re still not allowed to kill civilians. And if you’re going to kill civilians, you need to own your shit. If we’d bombed Bin Laden, maybe it would have accomplished something positive that was worth the civilian deaths. Maybe it would have been the best we could do under the circumstances. Maybe it would have been the act that minimized future suffering.

    But none of that would have made it right. Because You’re not allowed to kill civilians.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    There’s a difference between things being wrong, and things violating the rules. There are consequently many things which are wrong, which I am nevertheless allowed to do. There are similarly many things which I am not allowed to do, but which are not wrong. And there are many things which are both. It’s often useful to distinguish between them.

  • aunursa

    No. You’re wrong.

    Under certain circumstance you ARE allowed to kill civilians.

    You’re not allowed to target civilians.

    You may have saved many more lives than the ones you took. You may have done the best you could have done given the circumstances. But you have still done wrong.

    That position is both illogical and immoral.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Nope. If you’re going to kill civilians, you have to be willing to do a thing that is wrong. You don’t get to kill civilians and then say you’ve done the right thing.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Though it is possible that an action that has as a side effect killing civilians is the least wrong action to take under the circumstances. Won’t happen often, but could happen.

  • aunursa

    No.
    Sometimes killing civilians, in other words taking an action that results in the (unintended) deaths of civilians in order to prevent an even greater number of civilian casualties, is the right thing to do. Not to take such an action and instead all the greater number to be killed may be the wrong action. And any code that labels as wrong every possible action that would save, for example, 100 innocent lives at the expense of one 1 innocent life, is immoral.

    I thank God that our leaders don’t share such a warped mindset.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bill-McDonough/100001260964707 Bill McDonough

    I would say that in killing civilians, regardless of the circumstances, you have committed an immoral act. It may be that the immoral act you committed was the least immoral of your options, but it is still an immoral act.

    That doesn’t make it wrong. That’s just how life is: sometimes, we’re forced to choose between the lesser of two evils in order to achieve the greatest good possible in a given situation. It doesn’t make the evil we’ve chosen any less evil, just as the evil inherent in the choice doesn’t make the choice anything other than the right choice in that situation.

    It only means we live in a world where morally pure acts are harder to come by than say, a cone of soft-serve vanilla. It’s a depressing thought, perhaps, but I prefer to look at it as ‘even in such a world, the inherent moral character of most people compels us to look for that ‘greatest good possible’, rather than simply opting for expedience. We regret the necessity of our actions – we should not ever regret answering that necessity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    > it is still an immoral act. That doesn’t make it wrong

    This statement strikes me as gibberish, as I consider the whole point of a system of morality to be determining right action. Which means that on my account, whatever system I’m using to class an act as “wrong” in this sense is definitionally a moral system (albeit potentially a deeply flawed one), and when a moral system rejects an act it definitionally rules that act both immoral and wrong.

    So clearly, our understandings of the relationship of a system of morality (and immorality) to determining right (and wrong) action are different.

    If you can articulate what, on your account, a system of morality is for, I would be interested.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    No. Letting 100 innocent people die rather than killing 10 is more wrong than killing 10 to save 100. But it still isn’t right. You never get to look at the family of an innocent person and say “We did a good and right thing by killing your loved one.” Less wrong isn’t the same as right.

  • aunursa

    It may be right. It may be wrong. Or it may be neither right nor wrong.

    But there is no more wrong or less wrong. There are no degrees of wrong.

    And nobody is suggesting that grieving family members should be told, “It was right that your loved one was killed.” But I would much rather be required to address the family members of those 10 than I would the alternate situation, in which I would have to explain to many more grieving family members why the lives of 10 civilians are more important than the lives of 100.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Now that’s just silly. Second degree murder is not equally as wrong as racial genocide.

  • aunursa

    Perhaps you can give me a situation in which the only possible options are committing second degree murder and committing genocide.

    Otherwise I stand by my statement.

    Racial genocide is a much more grevious crime and sin than second degree murder. But both crimes are wrong. Period. One is not more wrong than the other.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    Racial genocide is a much more grevious crime and sin than second degree murder. But both crimes are wrong. Period. One is not more wrong than the other.

    If this is true, then I care much more about the greviousness of an act than about its wrongness. Do you care more about wrongness than greviousness? If so, why?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Perhaps not genocide per se, but what jumped into my head was a scene from Metal Gear Solid 3. The antagonist has just gotten his hands on a Davy Crockett — basically what you get when you combine a portable rocket launcher with a small nuclear warhead. Itchy to try it out, he decides to test it on a facility containing hundreds of witnesses to his recent crimes. Realizing what he’s about to do, several of his soldiers try to reason with him, but to no avail. He launches the warhead and kills hundreds, plus starts an international incident which nearly results in World War 3 (this is taking place in the 1960′s in Russia). In the setting timeline, this is one of the founding incidents from which the world never fully recovers. The Cold War escalates, international incidents and small scale wars become increasingly common, and by the 2000s war is nearly an everyday event.

    What if one of his soldiers had shot and killed him instead? How would history have played out differently, and would the act of killing him have been just as wrong as letting him start history down a timeline of continuous destruction?

    (On second thought, I could also have just asked “If you could go back in time and kill Hitler…” but that’s so cliche.)

  • aunursa

    Do you care more about wrongness than greviousness?

    No.

  • aunursa

    would the act of killing him have been just as wrong as letting him start history down a timeline of continuous destruction

    No. Killing him would have been the right thing to do.

  • PatBannon

    There is a difference between right and correct. Something that is the correct thing to do – killing 10 to save 100 – may not be morally right, but it is correct to do so.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bill-McDonough/100001260964707 Bill McDonough

    Simply that the right action is, by necessity, the most moral (or least immoral) action available. Killing the innocent is immoral. There are no circumstances which make it moral. But if one must commit an immoral act (and there are, truly, no morally pure acts, as all our actions are motivated ultimately by self-interest, even when that self-interest is simply the satisfaction of our desire to be able to live with ourselves – or the desire not to be someone with whom we could not live), then clearly, it is wrong to fail to minimize the immorality that stems from your actions.

    Just because a system of morality is used to determine the right action, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the right action is moral. Only that it may be the least objectionable option you have.

    No matter how you slice it, if your options are ‘fall one foot’ or ‘fall five feet’, and your goal is to not fall at all, then clearly one of those options is the ‘right’ choice – but neither one is ‘up’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    So if I’ve understood you, on your account a system of morality ranks actions on some kind of scale of immoral -> moral, and “right” and “moral” both relate to the ranking of an act on that scale, but “right” refers to the highest-ranking available choice, whereas “moral” refers to an absolute property of an act independent of available choices.

    Yes?

    So, OK… can you give me an example of a moral act that has actually been performed in the history of the world? How do you know it’s moral?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bill-McDonough/100001260964707 Bill McDonough

    Well, since you just responded to a post in which I said ‘there are no morally pure acts’… no. I can’t. I can only say that an act would truly be moral if it involved no immorality, and no self-interest. Self-interest, by its very nature, puts your own interests ahead of others’s interests. It is selfish, and so, immoral.

    There’s also never been an example of true human perfection – doesn’t stop us from striving toward it. Just because something’s impossible doesn’t mean it’s not aspirational.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So it would be moral to work oneself to death, always for others, never taking a moment to make sure one is in a condition to keep working? Because taking that moment would be selfish and thus immoral?

    I strongly disagree.

  • Carstonio

    That’s really an argument that the morality of an action is based on motive or intent.

  • hidden_urchin

    I’d suggest this litmus test for determining whether or not killing civilians is “wrong.”

    As the head of whichever government does it, are you willing to go on national television and say, “We killed three children, A, age six, B, age five, and C, age 2, with a drone strike while they were playing in front of their home. We also killed Scary Terrorist who we know was plotting to do bad things. Because we killed Scary Terrorist, the deaths of A, B and C are acceptable to us.”

    Alternatively, “Yesterday we killed a mother and her infant in a drone strike, instead of Scary Terrorist, due to bad intelligence. However, because we ultimately believe that the drone program is necessary for the safety of a free world, we are not willing to shut it down in order reduce the chance of unintended civilian deaths to 0. The deaths of Mother and Infant are an acceptable cost of maintaining that program.”

    If a leader can’t outright say that the deaths of specific civilians were acceptable, but has to dodge it by talking about “collateral damage” or by apologizing with a “mistakes were made,” then zie knows that the choice was wrong because zie will not take responsibility for that choice.

    It’s not about saying “we screwed up and we’ll do better next time.” The methods we’re using are, by their nature, indiscriminate and it is inevitable that they will be incorrectly applied. The number of civilian deaths will never be 0. Therefore, if we want to argue that a method resulting in the deaths of civilians is a correct choice then we have to be willing to own each and every death in order to demonstrate that belief. Ducking the reality only says one thing: “We know what we’re doing is wrong.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    For what it’s worth, I would love to live in a nation of voters who, when a government leader gets on national television and says that, would all examine their own consciences, decide whether we prefer living in a world with Scary Terrorist and children A, B, and C all alive, or living in the world with them all dead, and either endorse the decision or reject it based on that preference.

    Given that I don’t live in such a nation, but instead one in which voters want things we’re unwilling to acknowledge the costs of, I’m not sure I endorse your litmus test.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    OK, fair enough. That’s internally consistent, at least, although it’s not at all what I mean by “moral.”

    If nothing that anyone has ever done ever was ever a moral act, then saying about some specific act that it’s immoral is true but uninteresting (and potentially misleading).

    I have no problem talking about aspirational states, but I do think it’s useful to label them clearly.

  • Bill McDonough

    Not necessarily. Why are you doing it? Is it truly being done out of an impossibly selfless drive to provide for others? Or is it being done because you want to feel good about yourself and want others to think of you as selfless?

    If so, that’s a selfish movation, and thus it’s not a morally pure act.

    Mortal purity is impossible. At best what you can get is a ‘least bad’ option.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Moral action is impossible?

    Yeah, bored of you.


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