Tom

Initiation of Force: When is it permissible?

33 posts in this topic

So, as this is an emergency situation which I've brought up, normal ethics do not apply?

Perhaps you didn't understand, but your example is not an emergency situation. It is an amoral situation.

How would I think about my choices? Are emergencies not amoral situations?

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What about pre-emptive attack for the purpose of self defense?

ruveyn

Well, what about it? If your reason tells you that if you don't, you will suffer for it, then you do it. You would have weighed up that you were under threat, and what steps to take to reduce that threat. I don't see what this has to do with the original scenario, which placed one in a position where normal morality could not apply and then expect normal morality to supply an answer.

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So, as this is an emergency situation which I've brought up, normal ethics do not apply?

Perhaps you didn't understand, but your example is not an emergency situation. It is an amoral situation.

How would I think about my choices? Are emergencies not amoral situations?

As long as you can make a rational decision which allows you to select your values according to normal ethics, then that is what applies. Normal ethics does not involve denying another his rights. If you dream up a situation where this is not possible, how can you expect an answer other than to do what you can live or not live with. IOW there is a difference between the options of a "normal" emergency, and a situation where death is the only option.

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What about pre-emptive attack for the purpose of self defense?

ruveyn

Well, what about it? If your reason tells you that if you don't, you will suffer for it, then you do it. You would have weighed up that you were under threat, and what steps to take to reduce that threat. I don't see what this has to do with the original scenario, which placed one in a position where normal morality could not apply and then expect normal morality to supply an answer.

Threat assessment often depends on incomplete data or information. Hence the judgement --- I am threatened with harm -- is potentially erroneous. Is it o.k. to respond to a probable threat (which may not be a threat at all) with real honest to goodness force?

ruveyn

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What about pre-emptive attack for the purpose of self defense?

ruveyn

Well, what about it? If your reason tells you that if you don't, you will suffer for it, then you do it. You would have weighed up that you were under threat, and what steps to take to reduce that threat. I don't see what this has to do with the original scenario, which placed one in a position where normal morality could not apply and then expect normal morality to supply an answer.

Threat assessment often depends on incomplete data or information. Hence the judgement --- I am threatened with harm -- is potentially erroneous. Is it o.k. to respond to a probable threat (which may not be a threat at all) with real honest to goodness force?

ruveyn

Some people have been killed crossing the road. Their data assessment was wrong, yet they bet their lives it wasn't.. Is it OK to cross the road, after all there may be traffic we didn't see?

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Some people have been killed crossing the road. Their data assessment was wrong, yet they bet their lives it wasn't.. Is it OK to cross the road, after all there may be traffic we didn't see?

Indeed. Now what about evaluating the threat posed by other humans against us. If the evaluation is less then certain (because the information or intelligence we receive is rarely complete or clear) what is the morality of basing an attack that will make other humans bleed and die on less then certain knowledge? For example, in 1967 the Israeli military put together an intelligence picture indicating an attack on Israel would be forthcoming shortly. So they attacked first. No blow had yet been struck upon them, but they went and shot up the Egyptian airf orce and the Syrian tank force on the Golan Heights.

My own opinion is that if the attack seems reasonably probable, then a pre-emptive attack is warranted. As it says in the Talmud: If he is coming to kill you, rise up early and kill him first (San Hedrin 72 B ). Good advice! That is why Jews have managed to survive for over 3000 years with a good part of the world seeking their blood.

But that is only my opinion. What would an Objectivist say? I suspect Objectivists would come to the same conclusion I have, but for somewhat different reasons.

ruveyn

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My own opinion is that if the attack seems reasonably probable, then a pre-emptive attack is warranted. ...

But that is only my opinion. What would an Objectivist say? I suspect Objectivists would come to the same conclusion I have, but for somewhat different reasons.

A threat of force IS the initiation of force and force used in self-defense IS proper retaliatory force.

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