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Lecture 4

Philosophy 34-129 Lecture 4: Lecture Notes on Political Issues, War

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Mark Letteri

Wasserstrom (P. 115) • War and moral nihilism (that there is no morality in war) • Nihilists believe there is no relation between war and morality o Descriptive  “the way it is” (what you see is what you get) o In war, morality rules don’t apply (that’s our nature) o Prescriptive  “should seek self-interest” (otherwise, being foolish)  involves with a should o Analytic  “no connection” between war and morality (no relationship at all, goes beyond descriptive) • If analytic is correct, there is no trouble defining moral rules • Assessing the morality of war o View war as a game o Cause/justification o Self-defence • Duty to minimize unnecessary harm  war and morality are connected • War cannot be ruled out morally • Issue of self-defence • War and innocents o What counts as innocence? o Do any innocents exist? He rejects the idea that everyone is guilty o When is the death of innocents immoral? If always, a pacifist (Wasserstrom says if you act reckless and people die; intentionally kill people, that’s a moral problem) o The relation between the immorality of killing innocents and the immorality of war? Ryan (P. 124) • “The Morality of Pacifism” • “Fellow-creaturehood” gets in the way (page 124) • “necessary distance” • Pacifism as moral position, not idiosyncrasy • Negative bond vs. deeper bond • Objectification as absolutely wrong • Persons vs. things Steinhoff (P. 100) • “Torture: The Case for Dirty Harry” • Prohibition of assault against the defenceless (page 100) • Principled distinction between combatants vs. non-combatants (“fair fight”) • Principle of proportionality • Steinhoff: Alleged prohibition and principle of fairness have no force • Higher burden of justification? • Forced self-betrayal? • “Torture is easier to justify than killing even from a first-person perspective” (page 102, left) • “self-betrayal” not limited to torture • Moral relevance of “immediate emotional reactions”? • Empathy with the living, not the dead • Assault against the defenceless but threatening • “the person’s culpably causing the threat of harm” • Diversion of aggression back onto aggressor (page 104, left) • Feigning is neither an excuse nor a compelling condemnation of defensive reaction • Guilt by association (page 105, bottom) • Question of tyranny? • “The liberty of the innocent” (page 105, right) • If we can justify punishment, why can we not justify torture? • “Consequences count”: rejection of moral absolutism; justification of torture (not just excuse) Wolfendale (P. 107) • “Training Torturers: A Critique of the ‘Ticking Bomb • Arguments from utility, self-defence, and necessity • “Permitting torture means permitting torturers
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