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Moral Relativism in War

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posted on Nov, 23 2004 @ 08:14 PM
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In this new war on terrorism, the fundemental root of all the furious debate comes down to (in my opinion) one question, and it's two simple answers: Do we have the right to judge?

Most of my European friends, and some of the asian ones (though not as many) answer this with a resounding NO! When I say that wherever evil exists, it must be fought, and to not fight it is a crime, they say that that is exactly what Osama bin Laden and the rest think when they look at the USA. To them, 'smart' munitions that occasionally hit schools, and invasions for weapons of mass dissapearance are clear signs of America's evil. Hence, the solution of those who answer no is that because we cannot judge, the only real ideal is a world where no one takes actions based on their judgements.

On the other hand, most Americans I know (myself included) would answer YES. Like rudi gulliani at the UN, they would say, "the time of moral relativism has passed. We are right, they are wrong." This isn't typical American arogance (as some would call it) but simply the resolve necessary to take action to stop further acts of terror. The reasoning here is that, if we sit around wondering if we have the right to judge, 'they' will simply laugh at our weakness and continue enrolling in flight schools. Thus, because they judge us and take action against us, our only option is to judge their actions and retaliate. Who started it is irrelevant, we will end it...our way. That is the argument of what could be called the moral absolutists, and it is, just liek the other one, open to critiscism.

My intention here is not to reengage the whole pro-bush anti-bush debate - although I fear it might go there - but to hear what people have to say on this issue. I strongly believe that the US's actions in the world are very much tied to its prevailing conservative culture (World Values survey showed the US to be the most traditional, conservative developed nation). What are your views on this, ATS members? Do we have the right to judge (as an abstract question)? Is it necessary to fight this war? Or would the war simply stop if we stopped judging?

Archangel




posted on Nov, 23 2004 @ 08:41 PM
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I think we should stop judging the situation on the basis of 'evil'. Evil is a subjective term to which anyone can attach any definition. What we need to do is recognize the fact that we have enemies, they employ an identifiable set of tactics and strategy, for particular reasons, and most importantly, that they want to destroy western society.

Fighting pre-emptive wars in the name of self defense is not a concept that I'm opposed to. But what I am opposed to is fighting a war that would be labeled 'Good vs. Evil'. That is an endless war.

There is no reason for relativism in war. We must define absolutely who our enemies are, where they are, why they act, and eliminate them. The only thing I can see relative in this situation might be that we would have to eventually quit doing the things that inflame our enemies. Some of these things inflame me as well.

[edit on 23-11-2004 by DeltaChaos]



posted on Nov, 23 2004 @ 08:43 PM
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Might is not right.

War is not an inevitable conclusion of some suppressed part of human nature.

War is wrong.

Terror is also wrong, but war does not "fight" terror, it fuels terror.

To predicate a war upon lies and fabrication in order to support a hidden agenda is still more wrong.



posted on Nov, 23 2004 @ 09:29 PM
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People need to view this war in relative terms. During World War 2 before we were really involved, we were giving supplies to the allied side and then the Japanese attacked us. Was this attack completely uncalled for? Many would argue that by helping the allies, we had already engaged in war against the Germans and Japanese, therefore them attacking us was merely a reaction to us attacking them, indirectly mind you, but attacking none the less.

This is not unlike the reasons for 9/11. Israel and Palestine, the Muslims and the Jews in a war of their own, we are essentially interfering with this war by assisting the Israelies and thus we are viewed as an aggressor by people such as Osama bin Laden. I would have to say I sort of agree with this, and that's why I believe the correct action in restoring peace is by not reacting hostilely, but by figuring out and rectifying the reasons for us being viewed as an aggressor in the first place. Such pragmatism unfortunately doesn't dwell in the minds of the average American, so no doubt, this war will never end.



posted on Nov, 23 2004 @ 09:42 PM
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Originally posted by keke
People need to view this war in relative terms. During World War 2 before we were really involved, we were giving supplies to the allied side and then the Japanese attacked us. Was this attack completely uncalled for? Many would argue that by helping the allies, we had already engaged in war against the Germans and Japanese, therefore them attacking us was merely a reaction to us attacking them, indirectly mind you, but attacking none the less.


The Germans, Italians and Japanese may not have attacked the US at that point in time but they had invaded and were occupying other countries, making them clear aggressors and threats to world peace. In the first Gulf war Iraq was clearly engaging in expansive activities and had to be stopped and that's why the US had so much more support for that war than this one. In retrospect Saddam probably should have been removed then because I don't think the Iraqi's would have resisted as much since they would have known their government caused the war. The invasion was a direct result of the governments overt aggression and there would have been less speculation/propaganda as to why they were being invaded.




[edit on 23-11-2004 by Trent]



posted on Nov, 23 2004 @ 09:53 PM
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I see it this way. Without good and evil, there is no battle.

I am not saying good and evil exist. Frankly, I think they don't exist, the concept is completely illogical. But That said, one can always create the concept of good and evil. And once you create, then you have a battle.



posted on Nov, 23 2004 @ 09:53 PM
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Originally posted by keke
Many would argue that by helping the allies, we had already engaged in war against the Germans and Japanese...

... we are essentially interfering with this war by assisting the Israelies and thus we are viewed as an aggressor by people such as Osama bin Laden.


There were Americans actively aiding the Axis during WWII as well. See: Prescott Bush.

Did we not also help Osama bin Laden during his time of need with arms, intelligence, and training?

Now there's relativism for you.



posted on Nov, 23 2004 @ 09:56 PM
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A bloody cloth does not clean a bloody wound; to fight terror with more terror is an act of hyopcrisy and moral disconnect -- relative as they are.

The current administration -- though previous have overtly-- has employed an ideological based war; Good vs Evil;Secularism vs non-secularism;dictatorship vs deMOCKracy.


Rudi Gullianis' adress to the United Nations, "the time of moral relativism has passed. We are right, they are wrong." reek of a contradiction, deciet and hubris.

Will finish when i get home.

Deep



posted on Nov, 24 2004 @ 12:32 AM
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It's also interesting to see America preach about good vs. evil when the U.S. backed tons of regimes and organizations, that are by American definition, evil.

Examples: Saddam Hussein, Reza Shah Palavi, the Saudi royalty, the list goes on.



posted on Nov, 24 2004 @ 02:26 AM
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I see this going into the iraq debate...well I suppose it was kinda dumb of me to hope it wouldn't. However, people, can we please all realize that a few posts on ATS isn't going to change anyone's mind on the US? I'm living in Asia and am subjected to anti-americanism on a daily basis from friends and strangers, and THAT hasn't changed my mind. Some of you might call that American arrogance, I call it genuine beliefs, but whatever the case, realize that what you say here won't change anyone's mind. All of us would profit far more from exploring something that can actually help us face continuing threats, and it would be far more interesting to consider whether any administration CAN wage a War on Terror with an attitude of moral relativism.

Actually, although I still do believe that people like al qaeda are evil, what DeltaChaos says is a kind of middle ground. Rather than define good and evil in absolute terms, it may be better to simply define the enemy absolutely, and take all measures needed to defeat it. I believe that this is what most American governments to date have been doing (whether justly or not is up to the reader to decide). I shall get back, however, to why this is not enough at the end of this post.

Even the government tends to have a very moral absolutist stance - even in an official sense. I regret I don't have a link to direct people to this, but the famous document NSC 68, which describes the new Soviet Threat in the 1940s uses language to paint the USSR as an evil regime.

The point of me bringing this up was to redirect this thread in what I feel is a question we should be able to answer without getting into another damn argument about Bush.

Can you inspire a population to back a cause if you present a case that isn't absolute in moral terms? CAN we expect people to retaliate effectively if the commander in chief spouts theories about US assistance to horrible regimes and how the whole war is justifiable only in a clinical sense?


Therefore, can we (or, if you're not an American, any nation) effectively fight a broad campaign such as the War on Terror if we are moral relativists?

Archangel76



posted on Nov, 24 2004 @ 04:15 AM
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Originally posted by MaskedAvatar
Might is not right.

War is not an inevitable conclusion of some suppressed part of human nature.

War is wrong.

Terror is also wrong, but war does not "fight" terror, it fuels terror.

To predicate a war upon lies and fabrication in order to support a hidden agenda is still more wrong.



Damn, that was very well said!!


by: sweatmonicaIdo
I see it this way. Without good and evil, there is no battle.

I am not saying good and evil exist. Frankly, I think they don't exist, the concept is completely illogical. But That said, one can always create the concept of good and evil. And once you create, then you have a battle.


Very Nice!! You people are Hot Tonight!!

You are obviously aware of the Freedom one feels when experiencing life in it's 'Interdependant Whole' or 'Tao' State, which comes only after Realizing:
"I am 'The Reflection' of who I 'Think' I am, rippled across 'The Mirage of Objective Reality' which I am Defining."

I hope others become aware of that same Freedom soon as well. Waking up without first realizing you're dreaming can be a bit tricky however!!


Case in point!! Using the Example:

"the time of moral relativism has passed. We are right, they are wrong."

Archangel76 'Chose' from Two Preceived Conceptual Ends & Created the Answer to The Moral Indecision. Defining "We are right, they are wrong."

Another Way to Remove that Moral Indecision would be Realizing 'Right & Wrong' are not Separate to Each other but are Really One. Like Sides of a Coin, one heads the other tails, but always the same coin. Then further Realizing that One is Undefinable/Indescribable, or in other words, DeVoid of Meaning Entirely. Free from Living a Life Bound to Concepts which Limit Your Potential To Be.

IMO, if the 'Time has Passed' in answering Such Morallity Difficulties, then One should Remove Them rather than Rely in Either of Them. This allows for continued flow and change of the Tao without losing step in flowing with it.

I realize ideas like the ones above and terms like Tao may be unfamiliar to some people. Still for others I'm sure might be saying, 'It may as well just be in Chinese!!'
Well, aren't they the lucky ones in this case, since they get to be both Fortunate & Unfortunate at the same time!
Anyway, the same principles and ideas can be applied in a variety of ways and examples. Try and find how it may fit with yours ideas, but if it doesn't seem to fit, first let me try and mold it to work with you before you dismiss it all as 'The Ramblings of a Lunatic'!



posted on Nov, 24 2004 @ 07:23 AM
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mOjOm, dude (or dudette), you are deep. I won't call you a lunatic, because jsut reading your post left me in such a state of befuddlement that only two conclusions are possible (I know, this thread started off like that
: either you are incredibly smart or I am incredibly stupid
.

Could you perhaps simplify what you're saying so that even a neocon like myself can understand it, and tell me how it either confirms or rejects my view that moral relativism has no place in war?

As far as I understand what you are saying (which, admittedly, isn't very far) it seems more suited to individual life, but not in shaping the policies of nations. What sweetmonicaIdo said: "without good and evil, there would be no battle" is kinda true. Obvioulsy the Bush administration would be foolish not to exploit the belief by most Americans in a clearly defined good and evil to raise support for the war, hence, by creating a heightened awareness of good and evil in a soceity, and portraying ourselves as the good, they are increasing our effectiveness in war (in my opinion). What I am asking is whether a soceity can be effective in this kind of war without such a sense.

To illustrate, I have a dutch friend who's very much the kind to tell me off whenever I get too much into the mood of "well I don't care how they see us, we can't sit around discussing whether or not we have the right to judge, because they sure as hell aren't". But when an Islamic fundementalist kills a Dutch filmaker, he's completely lost as to how his country should react. My response is very simple: hunt down the ones responsible and kill em, end of story. Then he's trying to look for answers in trying to find out if Islam is incompatible with Dutch culture - and I say that it has nothing to do with Islam's compatibility, just good being incompatible with evil - I know, that's overly simplistic , but i hope you can see my view for what it is: We have to judge, because they are judging us and killing our people. For us to be effective in combating such things, we can't undermine the war effort by defining the enemy as anything other than absolutely evil. There is no place for moral relativism in War. They are effective at fighting us (in their own way) because they define us as being absolutely evil. We can't be effective fighting them if we define them as being people abused by US foreign policy or freedom fighters or whatever - whether or not they are is a matter of personal opinion, but that is irrelevant to what I am asking: can we afford to see them that way?

Not at all attacking you - I truly believe that the shaping of foreign policy often depends on the collective answers of a soceity to really fundemental, perhaps philosophical quesions. I would love to understand your answer though



posted on Nov, 24 2004 @ 10:40 AM
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To me, the problem is that people really don't even know the question to ask. It seems to me that people are either wondering whether good or evil exist or if the concept should be enacted.

Personally, I believe that in war, one has to make up the idea of good and evil because unless you tell yourself you're right and they're wrong, you are fighting for nothing.



posted on Nov, 24 2004 @ 10:56 AM
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Originally posted by MaskedAvatar
Might is not right.

War is not an inevitable conclusion of some suppressed part of human nature.

War is wrong.



What a silly set of notions! Where DID you get these theories? Nothing in the universe or the way it works suggests that any of the above is true.

The Universe punishes any species that becomes too weak with extinction. It rewards the use of tools / intelligence / force with dominance within its environment. This is true in any ecosystem we have studied, without exception.

Balance of Nature is a myth. It only means nothing has a seriously measurable advantage over everything else in its environment.

Mankinds history follows this same pattern because it MUST. Why did the Indians get wiped out in North America? Because western civilization had better weapons than they did. Why did they have better weapons? Because they had more competition with different cultures (some wildly different).

Passive, inward looking, societies always get left behind and if they get in the way of stronger societies they get wiped out.

Fundamental Islam is a seriously broken social arrangement. Every country that adopts this religion has taken dramatic steps backward in almost every measurable way. Especially when compared to the rest of the world.

Now Islam has decided to get in the way of bigger, more violent, cultures. Nature must be satisfied.

Thus we have war. Thus Islam will either adapt and become more efficient and productive, or it will be exterminated.

Right now the rewards for peacefully buying the resources from the primitive cultures in the middle east outweighs the price for just taking those resources. If that changes then we will take what we need.

If Islam can organize and advance then they will take resources from the west.

THIS is natures way.



posted on Nov, 24 2004 @ 11:43 AM
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good & evil are varrying degrees of independant thought and action as perceived by you.

mr nice your comments make me angry!

technological suppirority justifys the slaughtering of lesser developed people? i dont get it...?

what does slaughtering thousands of lesser developed muslim civilazation have to do with looking outward?


Fundamental Islam is a seriously broken social arrangement. Every country that adopts this religion has taken dramatic steps backward in almost every measurable way. Especially when compared to the rest of the world.


politcal laced propaganda diatribe! this is so because the rest of the world rapes and plunders all that is up for grabs from the lesser developed peoples, much like humanity has done through out the course of history, again how are these actions justifyable?

they have no choice but to put an end to the war behemoth that is the united states, they are the oms and we are de-omizing!

in a greater world we would put aside our differences and work together. however distorted properly presented opinions with agenda driven motivation completely retard this effort in every way, we are working backwards.

IMO

i havnt writing so much for a while *venting discourse* dont mind me!




posted on Nov, 24 2004 @ 12:01 PM
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Dang, MrNice, that was absolutely brutal!

But the truth, non the less.........




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