• Internal Code :
  • Subject Code : PHIL1100
  • University :
  • Subject Name : Philosophy and social imperatives of education

Introduction to Philosophy

  1. What are absolute moral rules and why Elisabeth Anscombe think that war is always in the wrong?

Answer: Absolute moral rules refer to certain rules and ways of life that simply should not be compromised upon. The killing of innocent lives and betrayal of another’s confidence are not just wrong in the moral sense but they stain the sense of conscience and sway judgment in a way that renders all discourse on ethics as redundant. Christianity often dictates how one should behave as certain things are principally considered wrong by religion. Morality refers to the arena that even Christianity doesn’t cover. The religion considers war as unethical and killing of innocents is wrong. The idea of going to war brings with the entire concept of ethical subjectivism that enables then men in power to justify their infliction of violence on a nationalist populace without any regard for morals. It might even be for the reason that it brings glory to the ones in charge. But advocates of modern warfare will argue that when it comes to wars and protecting your own country there are no non-combatants, that the enemy is the enemy.

Elisabeth Anscombe, the philosopher was a devout catholic, and religion was very central to her life. She argued that certain actions simply cannot be done no matter what. For instance, no matter what is promised, the boiling of a baby is simply not right. Even though Anscombe argued about the essence of having an unshakeable sense of morality along with the presence of God. People might have different opinions and views of it but morality should not be compromised(Rachels, 2003)

 But ethical subjectivism does not believe in that it argues that when it comes to morals there are right or wrong sides it is just how people view the matter, Anscombe argued about how there was no way in which inflicting pain on civilians during the course of the war could be justified. When Anscombe referred to “President Truman as war criminal” she did so because according to her despite knowing that Non-combatants would be hurt and killed, Truman still went forward with the bombing on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing thousands (Anscombe, 1956)

Keeping ethical subjectivism aside, where does one draw the line? According to Dr Johnson, there are borderline cases in this war scenario, where one can distinguish and differentiate the intent and effect of infliction of such severe brutalities. The destruction of civilian cities does not come in that category as the circumstances and the effects cannot be differentiated or justified morally in any sense. (Dr Johnson, 2010)

  1. Kant also believes in absolute moral rules, but Kant believes that killing others can be justified in some cases. Explain, how for Kant, this shows respect for some persons.

Answer: Kant had always said that there can be only certain times when war is justified. if a country were to engage in a war in the defensive stance or combat was the only option in any situation, only then could it be justified. It is to be noted that Kant did not approve of the killing of innocents for the glory of winning a war, which is why many say he would have approved of the Iraq war because of the intervention of the foreign state. (Benhabib, 2012)

According to Kant, the only way countries could survive with sovereignty was with respect and adherence for international law and order that enabled them to co-exist. According to Wilson, whether Kant allows for liberal intervention is still debatable, but the absolute morals for Kant included the respect for one’s honour. Peace could be achieved, but Kant said that international law would have to do its part in ensuring the same(Rachels, 2003)

Kant always believed in reason and envisioned the enlightenment and rationality through which every person would at. But in the context of today’s world, pre-emptive war attacks are not carried out with the desire to make sense of the world or to protect honour, the dangers of then viewing Kant’s idea of morals come to surface and it can be quite problematic. According to him free being asked for an accountable government and he believed that this regard for international law and justice was more than sufficient to guide their sense of morality.

Kant did not take into consideration his “ideal of reason” was not a standard sate of thinking for all mortal individuals from nations all over the world and it still isn’t when it comes to deciding their stance on war. To expect that countries will live in a state of peace while being thoughtful about the goals and ambitions and lives of people at all times is a utopic vision and this is not the scene of the contemporary world today (Ameriks, 1981).

In “perpetual peace” Kant tells us in a state of war if the larger state can put an end to the despotic state while inflicting minimum harm then the war is justified. It would be justified because whatever harm is then caused by the war would be much less then what would because if the war to remove the despotic state in place would not take place. In a way, the war was then a saviour for a nation-state and this kind of liberalism may act following laws of the league of nations and respect the lives of the people of a country (Fletcher, 1987).

  1. According to former president Jimmy Carter, what are the criteria’s and conditions for just and moral war and why does USA’s 2003 invasion of Iraq not meet these conditions for being just and moral? Do you agree? Develop your position? for example, can the case be made that certain aspects of the invasion meet our definition of terrorism? explain.

 Answer: According to former president Jimmy Carter, morals above politics was paly to go. His sense of morality was not at all corrupted by the power wielded by violence on other nations and pre-emptive action was simply not justified. The strength of character of the nation and the respect for ideals and values were of imperative importance when making a decision to got war and in all these aspects the Iraq invasion created a dent on the collective conscience of the country where the USA was left bleeding dry financially and having the ideals of its state exposes in all of their hollowness. It was not even consistent with principles of Christianity and was not moral in the slightest sense. It was not defensive in any way as the government simply intervened, more than 3500 Us soldiers lost their lives and the financial and emotional costs of the war impacted both the nations involved without a morally right or even certain result. By going to war, the US also set the stage for Al Qaeda who have since then responded in direct retaliation to the intervention. More than an intervention the occupation of Iraq led to the complete kick-starting of the terrorism engine that affected the entire world (Pagano, 2007 )

References for Introduction to Philosophy 

Rachels, J. and Rachels, S. eds., 2003. The right thing to do: Basic readings in moral philosophy. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.

Rachels, J., & Rachels, S. (2012). The Elements of Moral Philosophy. 7th. New York.

Pagano, S. J., & Huo, Y. J. (2007). The role of moral emotions in predicting support for political actions in post‐war Iraq. Political Psychology28(2), 227-255.

Jensen, L. A. (1997). Different worldviews, different morals: America’s culture war divide. Human Development40(6), 325-344.

Richter, D. (1995). The incoherence of the moral'ought'. Philosophy70(271), 69-85.

Anscombe, G. E. M. (1956).  Truman's degree. Oxford: Oxonian Press.

Johnson, D. R. (2010). Nietzsche's anti-Darwinism. Cambridge University Press.

Engelhardt, H. T. (2010). Moral obligation after the death of God: Critical reflections on concerns from Immanuel Kant, GWF Hegel, and Elizabeth Anscombe. Social Philosophy & Policy27(2), 317.

Johnson, D. R. (2010). Nietzsche's anti-Darwinism. Cambridge University Press.

Fletcher, G. P. (1987). Law and Morality: A Kantian Perspective. Columbia Law Review87(3), 533-558.

Ameriks, K. (1981). Kant's deduction of freedom and morality. Journal of the History of Philosophy19(1), 53-79.

Benhabib, S. (2012). Carl Schmitt’s critique of Kant: Sovereignty and international law. Political theory40(6), 688-713.

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