INFORMATION

This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are essential to make our site work and others help us to improve by giving us some insight into how the site is being used. For further information, see our Privacy Policy. Continuing to use this website is acceptance of these cookies.

War

Enter here to explore ethical issues and discuss the meaning and source of morality.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
draykorinee
Posts: 245
Joined: September 21st, 2013, 11:10 am

War

#1 Post by draykorinee » December 5th, 2013, 12:46 pm

I am wondering if anyone knows of anything related to serving in the army and particularly going to war as a humanist, if human life is so valuable is it still okay to join the army and fight in places like Iraq? I know you can't blanket all humanists together, but it would seem to me that it would be counter intuitive to be a soldier fighting against non aggressors when your belief system (ugh, belief) is that human life is precious.
I am only wondering because I just watched 2 hours of Iraq war videos and I am feeling mightily interested in how a humanist could support this war (as christopher hitchens did) when its clearly, to me at least, an act of needless barbarity and wanton destruction, bordering on genocide of a certain people all in the name of oil.
For clarification, I can understand that their are absolutely times where fighting in a war has been a necessity (very very rare) and don't question that side of things.
sanctimonious
ˌsaŋ(k)tɪˈməʊnɪəs/Submit
adjectivederogatory
1.
making a show of being morally superior to other people.

User avatar
Altfish
Posts: 1821
Joined: March 26th, 2012, 8:46 am

Re: War

#2 Post by Altfish » December 5th, 2013, 12:51 pm

The BHA produces fact sheet on many ethical topics, here is the one on war...

http://www.humanismforschools.org.uk/pdfs/war.pdf

User avatar
draykorinee
Posts: 245
Joined: September 21st, 2013, 11:10 am

Re: War

#3 Post by draykorinee » December 5th, 2013, 12:54 pm

Thanks, that is pretty much the kind of thing I would expect, it is very similar to how I feel regarding war, thank you. I shall have to remember the BHA for future ethical dilemmas, I havent thoroughly perused the site.
sanctimonious
ˌsaŋ(k)tɪˈməʊnɪəs/Submit
adjectivederogatory
1.
making a show of being morally superior to other people.

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: War

#4 Post by Dave B » December 5th, 2013, 5:45 pm

In the end each person has to answer to their sense of ethics and morals, to the conscience. Those of a similar frame of mind will collect together on such things, that's how religions, political parties etc. form.

As an ex-member of the armed forces, it is a case of balancing my desire for a peaceful and perfectly cooperative world, a world based on Humanist values, and the reality that surrounds us.

I am not a pacifist but would endeavour to resolve any situation without violence, or with minimal violence if non-violence is impossible to remove the threat. That is one of the top rules in many writings on the "art" of war. Given no other possible option to preserve what I hold important against a force that was intent to destroy it I would take up arms reluctanctly and I would hate every moment of the action, however justifies I felt it to be.

If others see any conflict between my humanism and my willingness to use violence in defence of it that is their perception of the world, not mine.

This expresses my thoughts on this subject as fully and yet as concisely as I can manage, I will say no more.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

User avatar
animist
Posts: 6522
Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm

Re: War

#5 Post by animist » December 5th, 2013, 5:56 pm

Hitchens was a twat over the Iraq war. I don't see much difference between Humanists and Xians on this; both claim to be for peace - but when a particular conflict looms, they may decide that fighting is more important than peace

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: War

#6 Post by Dave B » December 5th, 2013, 6:48 pm

animist wrote:Hitchens was a twat over the Iraq war. I don't see much difference between Humanists and Xians on this; both claim to be for peace - but when a particular conflict looms, they may decide that fighting is more important than peace
Hmm, I will have to enter the general discussion maybe!

Animist, war can never "be more important than peace" and the invasion of Iraq was an action of violence too far. The defence of Iraq's neighbours had some small justification, but it was still for other than truly honourable reasons. The invasion of Afghanistan was an act of stupidity and a lesson from history totally unlearned. However I do not have an answer to the Afghanistan question, especially as was, that does not involve other draconian actions. The Medieval mindset is difficult to combat without strong measures.

However, if another part of humanity wishes to destroy your part, by violent means, which is the correct course of action:
a) Stand there and be killed because your way is right even if you and yours are dead and cannot, therefore, continue your philosophy into the future?
or
b) Defend yourself and your beliefs in any way possible and then do your best to rebuild humanity afterwards?

The religious can accept a) (turning of the cheek etc.) because they will have earned Brownie points in heaven and thus in their afterlife by doing so. The humanist only has him/herself and him/herself and his/her loved ones and friends to answer to in the final analysis. Of course, it will not matter when he/she is a bloody mess on the ground. And a possibly tyrannical regime has taken over what is left of their country and society. Answering to a state that insists he/she fights is another matter.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

User avatar
animist
Posts: 6522
Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm

Re: War

#7 Post by animist » December 7th, 2013, 8:42 am

Dave B wrote:
animist wrote:Hitchens was a twat over the Iraq war. I don't see much difference between Humanists and Xians on this; both claim to be for peace - but when a particular conflict looms, they may decide that fighting is more important than peace
Hmm, I will have to enter the general discussion maybe!

Animist, war can never "be more important than peace"
well that is fine if you are a pacifist, but of course the standard counter-argument is World War 2: would you, if you have been around then, have been content to allow Hitler to impose his racist Reich worldwide?

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: War

#8 Post by Dave B » December 7th, 2013, 9:44 am

animist wrote:
Dave B wrote:
animist wrote:Hitchens was a twat over the Iraq war. I don't see much difference between Humanists and Xians on this; both claim to be for peace - but when a particular conflict looms, they may decide that fighting is more important than peace
Hmm, I will have to enter the general discussion maybe!

Animist, war can never "be more important than peace"
well that is fine if you are a pacifist, but of course the standard counter-argument is World War 2: would you, if you have been around then, have been content to allow Hitler to impose his racist Reich worldwide?
No, but then, I would not consider the imposition of a racist regime as being a state of "peace" in the whole sense of the word.
In saying "...war can never "be more important than peace"..." I really meant that "war can never be of greater value to humanity than peace", "important" is a rather subjective value. That it might be more desirable in certain circumstances or to certain people is evident.
There is the unfortunate angle that warfare is big business - American companies made fortunes out of Iraq especially, so there is always that lobby - providing the fighting is a long way from the fat cats' front door! One could say that war is more important than peace for such as those.

There will always be those with personal ambition in a position to influence, or even command, others but I still think that the best generals and politicians do whatever they can first to avoid conflict. However, if an enemy is approaching who is intent on destroying all you hold dear you have two alternatives - let him do so or do your best to prevent it.

The alternatives are at their worst in situations where you have no chance of beating that approaching enemy; which is best, an honourable death in inevitable defeat or surrender, to save the maximum number of lives and, hopefully, work behind the lines to defeat the enemy in other, maybe peaceful, ways? Those facing the Mongol Horde had Hobson's Choice - defeat in defence meant the entire city being slaughtered or enslaved and raised to the ground, surrender meant death for the fighting men and virtual slavery for the rest under the enemy.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

User avatar
Cam
Posts: 98
Joined: October 1st, 2013, 9:36 am

Re: War

#9 Post by Cam » February 18th, 2014, 10:28 am

This is a very interesting topic for me at this time as I have been grappling with it recently.

Strangely (or maybe not so) when I was younger and had some shreds of religious belief, I was very pro-war. Now (and for many years) I am totally opposed to killing and will not do so except in the most extreme of circumstances to save my own life if there were absolutely no alternatives. This sounds very selfish but it's honest.

The quandary for me is: It is abhorrent to kill, as is failure to prevent others from killing.

In times of war, if I chose to be a conscientious objector I would be sitting in my prison cell mentally torturing myself for not being out there helping to prevent killing. On the other hand, I know with every fibre of my being that if I were given a gun and told by my commanding officer to kill, I could not. No way.

I think the above statements by Dave B are very practical and sensible. But I don't think I could go through with actual killing of another human being. I suspect that if it saved my life physically, it would be the end of me mentally. I just hope I am never forced into that situation.

Logically, I think if I had to come down on one side of the argument hard, I would have to fail to prevent others from killing. This is more detached personally than actually killing. Not a nice thing to have to say, but again selfish but honest.

If ever we do enter into world war 3, I think I'm probably best being branded with a big 'BU' (Bloody Useless) and thrown in a prison cell somewhere. :boohoo:

Post Reply