Re: MD Understanding Quality And Power

From: Sam Norton (
Date: Thu Dec 16 2004 - 12:30:15 GMT

  • Next message: Sam Norton: "Re: MD Is the MoQ still in the Kantosphere?"

    Hi Mark,

    Rapid response on a few bits.

    > MSH said:
    > My claim is that the USG-UKG values the lives of innocents less than
    > the lives of it's combatants, at least when the innocents are
    > strangers unfortunate enough to be living in a foreign country the
    > USG-UKG wants to invade.
    > Sam now says:
    > We need to distinguish three issues here, which have got blurred - 1.
    > the killing of civilians as a result of pursuing a legitimate
    > military target; 2. the killing of civilians as a result of pursuing
    > illegitimate military targets (to terrorise the population); and 3.
    > the lower valuation of civilians as compared to the valuation of
    > 'home' soldiers.
    > I think that 1. is inevitable (to be regretted and minimised wherever
    > possible, but unavoidable); 2. is evil; and 3. is profoundly
    > problematic. So when I said 'I'm not persuaded of that point', what I
    > am not persuaded of is that US/UK actions in Iraq fall under 2.
    > rather than 1. Which I'm sure we'll pursue further.
    > msh says:
    > Ok. But please recognize that 3 comes into play in actions that are
    > 1 or 2. That is, it doesn't matter whether or not the military goal
    > is "legitimate." If the goal is achieved through actions that are
    > taken only if the innocents killed are foreign strangers, rather than
    > the attacker's family or loved ones, then the action is morally
    > indefensible.

    This I'm finding very interesting. Is an alternative way of putting your point to say this: as a
    result of 3, targets that are claimed to be in 1 are in fact under 2? So the issue is the criteria
    of what counts as a legitimate military target. My suspicion is that if we accept your criteria then
    all military action is ruled out, as I can't think of a realistic scenario in which I would actively
    harm my own family. But that doesn't make your position wrong.

    > sam on preference for own family/biological conditioning etc:
    > I think there is a very big issue here, which would benefit from some
    > patient exploration, as I think it 'goes all the way down' and
    > probaly accounts for a huge part of our different approaches. What do
    > you think?
    > msh says:
    > See immediately above. I agree that this appears to be an important
    > difference in our moral temperments. I'm just surprised that it
    > does. But, yes, let's explore this difference in any way you like.

    I think this is one of the most important, yet also most unacknowledged differences between
    "conservative" and "progressive" approaches. If we get to a position of clarity on the killing of
    innocents point, I'd very much like to explore this more.

    > msh says:
    > I think the confusion is due to the fact that I am talking about the
    > noun "imperialism" and you are defending the adjective "imperialist." <snip>

    Yes, that makes sense.


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