The question of morality in war

Ethics[ edit ] Immanuel Kant introduced the categorical imperative: Sittlichkeit Ethics also known as moral philosophy is the branch of philosophy which addresses questions of morality. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources.

The question of morality in war

War, Morality, and Character: I became a philosophy major because of you! Fortunately, it was the latter. Our conversation revealed that what this young woman had remembered most out of the vast array of questions we considered in looking at the history of the last century was our consideration of morality in World War II.

The Lesson Plan In fact, my party partner is not alone in focusing on the war and morality unit as the most memorable in the course. That characterization may well be accurate.

A Question of Morality: John Rabe | Facing History and Ourselves

If ever a regime deserved defeating on moral grounds, surely the Nazi regime qualifies. Accepting that basic premise, however, still leaves a number of difficult questions to be solved, and it is the exploration of these questions which makes the unit sing.

Does the pursuit of morally good ends bless the means employed with moral goodness? Were the Japanese and German regimes on an equal moral plane? Is there a moral distinction between a the state and the nation? If there is, is the extent to which a population supports the policies of its government morally significant?

To what extent does morality require individual heroism in opposing wartime immorality? Am I required, for instance, to sacrifice my life to oppose the immoral demands of my government?

What moral sense do we make of our technological ability to eradicate the human race? As you may easily see, the questions are endless, and the potential answers equally numerous. How do we begin to make sense of this fascinating, but complicated, torrent of questions? Students begin by reading about and discussing four controversial elements in the conduct of the major combatant powers of the Second World War: These readings and some film present the events from rather different interpretive angles.

The Rape of Nanking is considered by a Chinese-American journalist. British area bombing is analyzed by a military ethicist who has taught at the U. Army War College, and students also see interviews with Germans who experienced the bombing and RAF pilots who carried it out.

Finally, the use of the atomic bomb is considered by the foremost modern proponent of classical Just War Theory. Along the way, the class is also provided with some philosophical framework so that they have a very general sense of the ways in which others have considered questions of war and morality.

Then we have a long discussion and write a short essay. The question addressed by both is whether one can posit a hierarchy of evil, and if so, how to place the various actors in World War II on that hierarchy.

The discussion is always vigorous and wide-ranging, and the essays often revelatory of careful thought and expression. That students remember a class assignment fondly is not in itself, though, enough to justify its educational value. What is that value? The Joy of the Big Questions The assignment surely has some inherent pedagogical value.

At the same time, it may open the door for students who have struggled with more usual topics to write in a new, and more successful, way. It might have been Shakespeare or Pinter, Bach or Ellington, the study of anything at all that presented to a student the joy of the big questions.

The question of morality in war

History is, at its most basic, about people and what people do. What people do —what happened in history — is inherently inconsistent and ambiguous, fraught with crossed purposes and contradictory understandings.

What all big questions have in common with history is that they are impossible to answer with finality. Quite the contrary; they are the most important questions to ask.

Character and Wisdom We speak of the development of character only with regard to men and women. This is because only men and women are capable of transcendence, of moving outside of and ultimately above their material constraints, constraints which include their physical environment, the accidents of time, geography, social class, gender and the like.

The question of morality in war

Asking the big questions of history presses a student to transcend the limits of his or her temporal moment. The past is indeed another place. Studying a language presses a student to transcend the limits of culture.

Most importantly, big questions inspire students to transcend what may be the most recalcitrant limitations of men and women, the limitations of the self.A Question of Morality: John Rabe. Genocide & Mass Violence. The Nanjing Atrocities. If you can do some good, why hesitate.

—John Rabe, December 10, 1. John H.

D. Rabe’s story presents a paradox. He is remembered as a great humanitarian despite remaining a loyal member of the Nazi Party. Throughout World War II Rabe remained a.

Anyone who cares about questions of war and peace — and who wishes to think deeply about how to assess those questions morally — should buy and promptly read Nigel Biggar's In Defense of War.

Jun 02,  · Try watching on the works of St. Augustine, who had a alternatively complicated idea of the morality of warfare or the "simply warfare".

The question of morality in war

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Church leaders question 'morality' of war. The leaders of the country's two major Christian churches today issued a statement expressing doubt about the moral legitimacy of war in Iraq.

Dec 20,  · At War is a reported blog from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and other conflicts in the post-9/11 era. The New York Times's award-winning team provides insight — and answers questions — about combatants on the faultlines, and civilians caught in the middle.

Morality - Wikipedia