lundi 5 novembre 2012

On the (relative) morality of the Hiroshima bombing


Ever since I learned of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings I've always wondered why these acts of war were considered the epitome of barbarity and of the utmost inhumanity men are capable of.

Six months prior to the 6th and 9th of August 1945, there has been an aerial raid on Dresden which cost the lives of maybe 200.000 people who perished in an inferno of flames. Most of the same number of Japanese victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki evaporated within seconds.

The raid over Dresden simply was an act of revenge and retaliation with no military targets and which didn't alter the course of the war nor significantly shortened it.

Before the bomb was dropped over the Japanese city of Hiroshima, an ultimatum was sent to the Empire of Japan which disregarded it and one bomb wasn't enough to make the military clique open its eyes, the generals and politicians accepted that another bomb be dropped and dozens of thousands other civilian casualties perish.

The A. bombings weren't acts of revenge or "punishment" over the Japanese population, they had the moral purpose to make the war come to an end asap and they fulfilled their mission within days.     

The only thing that makes anybody's death different is whether it is or not associated with pain. Is being burnt to death trapped in the back seat of a car after a crash on the motorway or with one's throat slit by some deranged thug a lesser plight that being suddenly atomised? 

It is the enormity of the damages that are caused with one single object that raises fright and terror but at the end of the day, since it is a matter of bringing chaos and destruction, it is just a question of scale.

Paradoxical as it may seem, what happened on August the 6th of 1945 was perhaps the less immoral act of the Second World War since it precisely put an end to said war, a result that the supposedly more "moral" traditional bombings of Tokyo with its 100.000 casualties failed to achieve. 

68 commentaires:

Anijo a dit…

Ouch. I have so much to say about this, but I am interested, first, in SemperFi's take on this situation.

Flocon a dit…

SemperFi,

A woman is waiting after you (and possibly two). You can not disappoint!

You lucky dog, I cannot remember the last time a woman was waiting after me...

Ah, the fine art of making oneself desired by hotties... shall I ever learn how to?

Anonyme a dit…

Anijo: This is a very large subject. One could comment on the broad jus in bellum law of war question, the more narrow issue of proportionality, and the differing premises underlying the strategic bombing efforts of the US and the UK (and why the most dangerous military assignment for a US serviceman in WWII was to an Eighth Air Force aircrew).

But all this will take time. And I must go to stand in a long line to vote.

Have you voted? Put down the paints and get to the polls.

While we are waiting in line, Flocon can make himself useful and research a follow-on controversy: The modern question of the ethics of the neutron bomb.

SemperFidelis

Anijo a dit…

Flocon,
I'm curious about SemperFi's take on this topic because most of the people I discuss politics with are liberals. SemperFi provides a thoughtful, intelligent view from the other side of the political spectrum which I find useful.

SemperFi,
I voted early a couple of weeks ago. There was no line to wait in because there were many polling boxes and many efficient poll workers. Here's a picture of what it looked like. This comes from a great Facebook page to help voters. There's no voter suppression here in Dona Ana County. ☺

Anijo a dit…

Obama is the projected winner for New Mexico. ☺

Anijo a dit…

I'm delighted that Obama won, mainly because of 'Obamacare' which will allow me to have affordable healthcare.

Also of interest:

Voters Ease Marijuana Laws in 2 States, but Legal Questions Remain

For supporters of legalizing marijuana, it was a historic moment, one that drew comparisons to the end of Prohibition: On Tuesday, voters in Colorado and Washington State made it legal to smoke pot recreationally, without any prescription or medical excuse.

Flocon a dit…

Anijo,

You may be delighted that Obama won but half of your fellow American citizens aren't which is one of the fundamental problems with "democracy" and elected parliamentary elections.

100 million (say) Americans will live the next four years in the detestation of Obama and had Romney been elected, the other 100 million would have impatiently waited for 2016 to give him the sack.

Basically "democracy" means that half a country lives in permanent political insatisfaction and in frustration vis-à-vis the other half.

Is that state of affaires really sound? But we've been here before...

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Pour ce qui concerne la légalisation de l'usage du cannabis je trouve ça très bien et c'est un des avantages du système politique fédéral américain where one or several States can implement policies that need not be autorised by some male legislators at the top of the pyramid.

This would be impossible in France and most of Europe (and probably the world) where hyper centralised States constitute a barrier to personal liberties.

Anijo a dit…

Oui, SemperFi, par exemple, n'est pas ravi je m'imagine.

This would be impossible in France and most of Europe (and probably the world) where hyper centralised States constitute a barrier to personal liberties.

This is a complex topic. There are circumstances when states rights are beneficial. And yet, what if some states wanted slavery? It's difficult to know which personal liberties to allow states to have.

Anonyme a dit…

Flocon:
//Is that state of affaires really sound?//

Yes.

In lieu of an argument, I will recount an experience. As I stood in line to vote on Tuesday, in a cold rain, the voter behind me was a young black woman. Perhaps 19 or 20. As often happens when standing in line in a cold rain, we started talking. She admitted that this was the first time she had ever voted and was anxious about the complicated North Carolina ballot (it is tricky). She asked me how it worked. I suppose I could have mislead her in the hopes of gaining a political advantage in an election that was very important to me. Would that be consistent with the Constitutional ideals I profess? No. So I explained how one fills in the little zeros, and why it is important to use the pen provided and not one's own pen, and why one has to vote separately for the president and vice president and that a straight party vote will not record a vote for the president and vice president. All this is explained on the ballot, but it can be confusing.
So she wrote some notes on her hand (permitted). As it happened, she ended up in the booth next to me. I remember thinking that "Well, my vote just got cancelled out." So we had our votes recorded at the same time, and walked out into the rain.

This is a better way of deciding policy issues than the way they are doing it in Syria.

SemperFidelis

Ned Ludd a dit…

During prohibition, many states refused to use their police to enforce the law claiming that it was up to the federals to do so and they wanted to use their police resources for real crimes. So there was divergence in the actual enforcement of the law.

A similar thing might happen today with marijuana. If the state and local police ignore the national law, it will make it more difficult for the Feds to enforce it, which the government has said it will do.

If state courts refuse to convict people, then there will be a bigger load on the national courts and prosecutors, and it may be more difficult for them to get jury convictions. So much the better.

Incidentally, I read that the President of Uruguay has got the assembly to legalize it. Now he is going to legalize abortion, the first Latin American country to do so apparently.

Anijo, remember that Eisenhower had to send in troops to enforce desegregation of schools in the South and LBJ had to use the National Guard. Jon Stewart remarked that Romney has won the presidency of the Confederacy.

The division in the U.S. still results from remaining racism and sexism. 70% or so of whites voted for Romney. Obama led among women by 18%. I would say this is confirmation of Michael Moore's book, "Stupid White Men".

Ned Ludd a dit…

As to the atomic bombings of Japan, I still cannot make up my mind. Sometimes I think it should not have been done, and other times I re-think it and approve of it.

I also wonder if Franklin Roosevelt, a much more erudite man than hick Truman, would have done it. One alternative would have been to starve the Japanese into submission, it is an island after all. But there were also tens of thousands of Japanese troops in Corea and China, so bombing may have been justified to save lives in those countries. It is a knotty question.

Flocon a dit…

Ned,

"As to the atomic bombings of Japan, I still cannot make up my mind"

68 years later... You wouldn't have been a great decider then since those in charge at the time had to decide within weeks.

Re the A bomb over Hiroshima, it is the "morality" of it that I addressed on this post, not the legal aspect of the question that Semperfi hinted at (and whose point of view Anijo is still feverishly waiting for).

The moral problem is interesting because it shows that even in the darkest of all dark situations there still exists some room to exercise morality.

This is not surprising since morality is inherent to humanity. And by morality we encompass Good and Evil.

The dropping of the bomb over Nagasaki can be summed up by a choice between two evils, the A bomb being the less one as compared to Dresden, Hamburg or Tokyo.

La bombe à neutron qu'évoque SemperFidelis est ici une diversion puisqu'il n'en est pas question dans le corps du billet.

The issue addressed by the post is a specific historical one and isn't the ultimate reference re the use of modern weapons.

Flocon a dit…

Anijo,

What percentage of your vote and that of the Dems was motivated by Obama's program and personal morality (if ever) and what percentage was motivated by a complete refusal that Romney could have been your next prez for the 4 years to come?

When our presidential election was held 6 months ago, I dare say a staunch majority of those who voted Hollande (and this includes me) picked him 75% out of detestation of Sarkozy and 10% because they really expected they'd be better off.

Gullibility is the basis of so-called "democracy".

------

I'm delighted that Obama won, mainly because of 'Obamacare' which will allow me to have affordable healthcare.

As you know, here in Europe we're benefiting of very advanced health care systems since most of them are already paid in advance so to say by many taxe lines on the payroll + personal insurances.

Yet, not all is fully reimbursed or paid for, notably glasses and tooth care.

Next week I'll have to unload 550 € for a specific chirurgical act under one tooth (something I normally shouldn't have to pay for but my personal situation has evolved) and next year it will be in the order of 6.000 € (which "normally" would have cost me 1.000 € or perhaps even less).

So I'm not sure I can indulge myself with this when I'm through with my dental care.

Flocon a dit…

"what if some states wanted slavery?"

Referendums are forbidden in Germany cause they (rightly in my opinion) deem them too dangerous and practised once or twice per decade in France. The last time there was one the answer was no and Sarkozy bypassed the people's vote by having the European treaty voted by the parliament (Hollande in favor that is against the will of the majority of French voters. So much for "democracy".

This form of popular political expression may look like "democracy" at its best whereas it is the worst form of "democracy".

Flocon a dit…

SemperFidelis,

"This is a better way of deciding policy issues than the way they are doing it in Syria."

Of course nobody challenges this but this argument is akin to the old line which goes like: it's me or the end of the world.

Western '"democracy" or the gulag, paradise or hell.

Like would say a painter of the onirism school that I know of, there are shades and nuances between black and white.

Ned Ludd a dit…

Flocon, a famous--or infamous--evangelist in the U.S., Pat Robertson, is astounded that women like the book "50 Shades of Gray", apparently a sort of semi-pornography. I haven't been interested in the book, but a poll also showed that 30% of women watch pornography(70% men). More people seem not to be listen to the Xian "message".

Anijo a dit…

What percentage of your vote and that of the Dems was motivated by Obama's program and personal morality (if ever) and what percentage was motivated by a complete refusal that Romney could have been your next prez for the 4 years to come?

It was mostly the health care program, for sure. I'm not sure what kind of president Romney would have been as I don't really know what he believes since he has been on both sides of so many issues. I don't detest Romney, but I always vote for the Democrat, so I would have voted for Obama even without the healthcare.

Anijo a dit…

Like would say a painter of the onirism school that I know of, there are shades and nuances between black and white.

;) I was amused by that reference. ☺

But what would be the nuance in this circumstance? One side loses and one side wins. How to improve the situation?

Flocon a dit…

Anijo,

"But what would be the nuance in this circumstance? One side loses and one side wins."

It is true that given the scale of the massacres - by the hundreds of thousands - "nuance" may not be the most appropriate term.

Basically the ultimate goal of the war was to defeat the agressor in the most effective way. So while the bombings of Dresden and Hamburg were unnecessary, barbaric, sadistic and totally useless, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki don't qualify as useless, sadistic and unnecessary.

As regards the barbarity of this action, it may be argued that eventually it was less so that the aforementioned bombings on Germany. And also, we're talking war here and Japan wasn't the innocent victim of an unprovoked war.


Anijo a dit…

Merci pour ton reponse Flocon. I was referring, though, to the discussion re Democracy. What is the nuance there? If Democracy in not the answer, then perhaps there is no answer?....

Anonyme a dit…

Flocon: First, I am not selling cheap Ugg boots. So please don't exile me to the spam locker.

Re the question set out by the post, I assume you are asking about "morality" in the sense of social mores (i.e. what the group considers to be proper behavior) as apposed to ethics (i.e. an objective claim that some behavior is right or wrong based on some ultimate standard).

We can discuss mores, but ethics is outside our zone of consideration, I think, since you deny an appeal to any ultimate standard of right and wrong.

A discussion of the mores of strategic bombing in WWII would still be interesting.
vr
(no boots or drugs) SemperFidelis

Flocon a dit…

Anijo,

As pertains le système politique présidentiel je le juge néfaste en ce qu'il divise le pays en deux clans ennemis.

Comme tu l'écris, "One side loses and one side wins." et cela ressemble à une guerre civile permanente under control. Is that sound?

I don't think so. Here in France the presidential system is even more accentuated than the American one où les pouvoirs du président sont cependant limités be it only because your country is a federal state.

The French presidents are as powerful as are dictators in Bielorussia or North Corea.

Suffices to note the hatred rightist politicians and their supporters (half the population) express against Hollande after the wrath of the other half of the country expressed against Sarkozy.

It is not acceptable that the fate of millions of people be decided by one man alone.

The German system seems more OK with me with an elected assembly in a federal state.

But the keyword is accountability and - oh surprise - no politician ever accepts that he may be held accountable of what he/she' done.

The doors are wide open to profiteers, crooks and thieves. Nothing's new here, everybody knows that.

The only barrier to immorality is the personal moral standing of the people concerned. Think Nixon vs. Carter for exemple.

Hollande is now villified because he's honest (nobody doubts that even his fiercest opponents) whereas Sarko and his team were professional incompetent crooks.

Honesty and decency don't pay in democracy as you know. So the one side wins all/loses all is inherently a perverse and prone to abuses system.

Flocon a dit…

SemperFi,

The intrusion of the spams into the blog through the protection barriers is a matter of concern now and there's nothing I can do about it but shut down the pages where they've succeeded to penetrate.

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you deny an appeal to any ultimate standard of right and wrong.

I understand you refer to an ancient exchange that took place last year if not even prior to 2011.

What would be an ultimate standard of right and wrong? that is the question.

I see two possibilities: an immanent standard or a transcendental one which could only be a religious one.

To Muslims the ultimate wrong is the desecration of their holly book I guess. Well, I couldn't care less about their ultimate wrong then.

Their ultimate right possibly would be to behave so in their life time that their arrival in Allah's paradise be guarantied. I couldn't care less either about their ultimate right then... as well as you I suppose.

And the same goes with all religions. I therefore state there is no transcendental right and wrong.

So on the "immanent" side of the coin, that is the lives we live hic et nun.

About every religion and system of thought, ancient and modern, Asian and Westerner agree on the basic: Don't do to other what you wouldn't want to be done upon you."

Which basically says we're all the same and Humanity is all and one.

With this in mind and in relation to the A-bombing of Hiroshima, if a choice is thinkable, better disappear in a fraction of a second than burn to death for hours in Dresden or Hamburg and experience hell.

"
A discussion of the mores of strategic bombing in WWII would still be interesting."


I have given my arguments, feel free to comment.

Anijo a dit…

As pertains le système politique présidentiel je le juge néfaste en ce qu'il divise le pays en deux clans ennemis.

Yes, I felt that when George W Bush was president, the opposing clan went after him tooth and nail, just as the other clan now goes after Obama. Because of this I decided that if Romney should have won the election, I would not consider him the enemy. I would just know that the 'other side' was getting their way for awhile. We all have to try to get along in the end. This is why I don't spread nasty messages on the internet about Republicans or Tea Party people. There's no need to widen the gulf.

And that's why I so enjoy how we get along with our friend, SemperFi. We may disagree, but it's a respectful disagreement, and not some playground brawl. And after all, even those who disagree do have some things in common.

Anijo a dit…

If either Democrats or Republicans had full control, it would concern me. I prefer "checks and balances" as was proposed by Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu.

Anonyme a dit…

Flocon: Very clearly set out. I understand you perfectly.

Re the WWII strategic bombing campaign, I have more than a little to say. I will turn to it this weekend.

Tonight I am packing for a trip to Western North Carolina for some time in the mountains. It will take about 7 hours to drive there. And I will never leave North Carolina.

For Anijo: This is the Pisgah National Forest. It is, I think, the site where many of the scenes in "Last of the Mohicans" were filmed.

I also plan to drink beer and eat popcorn at a college football game. One has to do one's best to support stereotypes.

SemperFidelis

Ned Ludd a dit…

Anijo, "checks and balances" don't apply to the political situation in the U.S. On one hand you have the Party of NO, the Republicans and on the other hand you have wimp Democrats who will compromise for no good reason. This is recently borne out by Rep House leader Boehner who outright refused a compromise on the budget, ruling out tax increases for the rich.

The Tea Party likes to pretend(I don't say "think" because they are incapable of that)it is independent though it is financed by reactionary billionaires like the Koch brothers.

I think that Obama should just let the tax/spending law go ahead since there is no willingness by Rethugs to compromise.
_____

Flocon, you forget the thousands of Japanese who suffered for weeks and years from the effects of radiation exposure. Also, I am not so sure that the bombings of Hamburg and Dresden were wrong. One was a major military port and the other was a railroad hub.

Anijo a dit…

Ned,
I realize that checks and balances as I linked to don't precisely have to do with Republicans vs Democrats, but the two parties do balance one another.

It is precisely the tone that you use with comments such as "Rethugs", or "because they are incapable of that" that creates more anger between the two parties. We all have to get along, like it or not, since neither party (thank goodness) is ever in full control.

As for compromising, that is the key to good governance. The sooner the two parties learn how to get along, the better off we'll all be. Well, this doesn't include you, since you live in France.

I used to fight against the Republicans until I realized that fighting too ugly just creates ill will and a wider gulf between peoples of differing opinions. I would prefer to attempt to communicate on a more diplomatic level.

Anijo a dit…

For Anijo: This is the Pisgah National Forest. It is, I think, the site where many of the scenes in "Last of the Mohicans" were filmed.

I also plan to drink beer and eat popcorn at a college football game. One has to do one's best to support stereotypes.


I googled Pisgah National Forest. What a very beautiful place that is. You will no doubt enjoy yourself.

As for popcorn and beer, I need no special occasion to partake of those goodies. ☺

Flocon a dit…

Ned,

J'oublie d'autant moins les effets des radiations sur les victimes des bombardements atomiques que c'est toujours le premier argument qui ressort à ce sujet.

Like the survivors of traditional bombings in Tokyo just had minor bruises to suffer from...

Re Hambourg and particularly Dresden 3 months before the end of the war, does it take two days of uninterrupted bombings with 1,300 bombers, 3,900 tons of incendiary bombs and 200,000 casualties to destroy a railroad hub? An act of war which didn't change at all the course of the war in Germany.

In Hamburg as well as in Dresden, incendiary bombs were used instead of explosive ones for the two operations were meant to be terror bombings.

How moral are terror bombings as compared to Hiroshima and Nagasaki whose goal was not to terrorise the population but to put an end to the war?

The question the post raises isn't which bombing is less "nice" than the other but the (relative) morality of the last one.

Of course thousands of other questions may be asked re Hiro/Naga bombings but I just was wondering why what happened on the 6th of August 1945 was deemed the epitome of inhumanity, much more so than the traditionnal bombings with as many casualties.

Flocon a dit…

To SemperFidelis when he returns,

1°- If there was to be an ultimate transcendental standard of right or wrong, we should be aware of it by now. And I'll go even further, we shouldn't even have to look for it, it should be self evident from the day Humanity has become aware of itself.

2°- Since all religions pretend to be the revealed one with its unique set of ultimate moral values suffices to show there exists nothing like any transcendental standard but as many ones as there are religions.

You'll tell me (perhaps) that this ultimate transcendental set of values is given to us by god. Err... by which god considering that all religions pretend to be the unique true one which worships the unique true god?

A true god should be universal whereas the Jews pretend to be sons of Israel and members of the chosen people. An idea which is the very negation of the universality of any given god.

Talk of transcendentality here!

Since there are as many gods that there are religions indicates that any so-called transcendental ultimate standard eventually depends on men's interpretation.

Therefore there exists no transcendentality in the realm of morality but on the contrary it all comes down to staunch immanence.

Ned Ludd a dit…

Flocon, your points are well expressed. I would add that our species is 100,000 to 200,000 years old. Let's take 100,000 for the sake of argument. So why did a god wait for 98,000 years to give it a supposed transcendental standard of right and wrong?

If transcendental rules exist, they would have existed at the beginning of the origin of our species. It is obvious that rules of accepted social behavior developed over tens of thousands of years and that they have changed over time.

People have invented gods over eons to justify their social values. These gods have come and gone. It will be no different with the current ones.

Anonyme a dit…

Anijo: Perfect day for hiking in the mountains. Hard frost last night. Frost on the West side of the trees until about 1030 AM. Foliage colors muted this year, but the red maples are bright. The major watercourse here is the French Broad River. A testament to the French trappers who came far down into Western North Carolina and Tennessee from Canada. It is running high and fast this year. Needed gloves through the morning. Saw a beaver. Meditated on General Revelation. Had a Sierra Nevada with lunch.
SemperFidelis

Anijo a dit…

SemperFi,

I understand that feeling that one has when admiring the beauty of nature. My feelings tend more towards Pantheism to some extent.

Anonyme a dit…

Flocon:
//Therefore there exists no transcendentality in the realm of morality but on the contrary it all comes down to staunch immanence.//

I agree that morality is dependent on cultural values and codes of conduct prevailing at the time of action. Morality does not propose an objective standard of right or wrong. Morality describes what is considered to be acceptable conduct by the group in question at a particular time.

So, when considering the morality of atomic bomb attacks on Japan, one must use the standard applicable at the time.

At the beginning of the War, when they had the resources, the Germans bombed cities for the express purpose of destroying civilian morale.

The allied strategic bombing campaign was, until the last year of the war, really two parallel campaigns. The British suffered unsustainable losses in early daylight attacks on military targets in Germany. They switched to night area bombing of cities and on 14 February 1942 an express directive was issued to Bomber Command that a primary objective was the destruction of the morale of German civilians. They certainly tried.

On the night of 27-28 July 1943, the RAF created temperatures of 1000 degrees centigrade over the city of Hamburg, producing a fire storm with hurricane-force winds. 40,000 people died in one night. In the Dresden raid, over 650,000 incendiaries were dropped. The firestorm engulfed 8 square miles. 135,000 were killed outright.

The Americans insisted that a bombing campaign could be restricted to military targets through accurate daylight bombing. The initial attempts were military failures. For example, the great Schweinfurt raid was intended to destroy Germany's most important ball bearing factories. On 14 October 1943, 291 B17s attacked the factories. 60 bombers were destroyed outright, 17 damaged beyond repair. 121 aircraft were put out of service for a significant period. 650 aircrew were lost immediately, with many more too seriously wounded to return to duty. Losses of this magnitude could not be sustained indefinitely. The British urged the US to join in night bombing. The Americans refused and pressed on, calculating (correctly) that they could eventually swamp the defenders with overwhelming numbers. Although, in practice, collateral damage was severe, the premise of the American campaign in Europe was always accurate bombing of military targets. But the US never disavowed the British area bombing.

Con't

SemperFidelis

Anonyme a dit…

Continued

By November 1944, with the re-capture of Guam, it became possible for the US to launch 1000 plane raids against Japan, each B29 carrying 8 tons of bombs. The US now accepted the logic of area bombing. For example, on the night of 9-10 March 1945, 300 B29s attacked Tokyo with incendiaries and killed 83,000. The atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima killed 100,000. The following attack on Nagasaki killed 74,800.

At the time in question, every military power with the means to do it attacked cities for the purpose of destroying civilian morale by causing mass casualties. Therefore, it was moral. The atomic bomb was simply a more efficient way to do it.

We are no more justified in criticizing the UK and the US of WWII than we are in criticizing the Aztecs for human sacrifice. These practices were acceptable at the time in question by the people concerned.

By the way, human sacrifice and atomic bombing were moral at the time and place employed by the Aztecs and the Americans without regard to whether they worked. That is not the issue. All that matters is that they were, insofar as the cultural norms at the time, acceptable practices

In my view, Flocon confuses his argument by interjecting a utilitarian standard (i.e. the atomic bomb brought about the best result for the most people with the least harm to the few). This is an ethical argument. He seeks to apply a standard that is applicable to all at all times and places. The Believer gets his universal standard through Revelation. The Utilitarian derives his standard through Reason. But they both claim that their standard is universal.

SemperFidelis

Flocon a dit…

SemperFidelis,

A two part over 4 Ko heavy comment! I never thought I would live long enough to read such a long piece from you on Shall we Talk?...

I'm ok with the historical part of your comment. It's just the end of it which is very confusing to me.

"
At the time in question, every military power with the means to do it attacked cities for the purpose of destroying civilian morale by causing mass casualties. Therefore, it was moral."


Therefore??? Because everybody involved who could do it would have done it it was moral??? I fail to see the logics behind the reasoning.

Like every criminal who can kill kills, it is moral?

Do you posit that destroying civilian morale was morale per se? Which then would imply that any bombing of civilians would be moral and that the bombing of Vietnam (with something like 2 million casualties) was the moral thing to even it it failed to break the morale of the population.

I cannot accept the parallel you draw between the practise of the Aztec and the A bombings. One cannot compare a religious ritual with a state of war between nations except as an hyperbole for human madness but not as a basis for setting up a norm of morality.

In my previous comment there was a comparison with bombings in Dresden and Tokyo with those upon Hiro/Naga with four criteria which could serve to distinguish (relative) good from bad.

("while the bombings of Dresden and Hamburg were unnecessary, barbaric, sadistic and totally useless, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki don't qualify as useless, sadistic and unnecessary."

These points have been lost in your response.

"human sacrifice and atomic bombing were moral at the time and place employed by the Aztecs and the Americans without regard to whether they worked"

Pétition de principe. On which ground were they "moral"? You apparently skip the necessary passage that would tell us what makes morality (or lack there of).

"That is not the issue. All that matters is it" etc.

These are two personal affirmations with no other foundation than "I decide this is not the issue" and "I decide what matters and what doesn't".

When some one unilaterally and out of the blue decides and poses the premises of the argument, the conclusion can only be whimsical...

Flocon a dit…

" All that matters is that they were, insofar as the cultural norms at the time, acceptable practices"

If killing 100.000 people within minutes was an acceptable practise at the time, one cannot help but wonder what would have been unacceptable practise by then.

And since everything goes, it also means that "morality" is a concept devoid of any sense.

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"In my view, Flocon confuses his argument by interjecting a utilitarian standard"

Of course I do. What would be morality if it wasn't closely tied to the reality of the world we live in? What would it be but morality in thin air?

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" This is an ethical argument";

I'm not sure I can agree with you here.

If there exists a difference between ethics and morality (mores and ethos)... ethics refers to our inner sense of what's good and bad whereas morality refers to the social norm of right and wrong. cf. droit naturel et droit positif.

"He seeks to apply a standard that is applicable to all at all times and places."

Err.. this is Kant's argument in his Critique of practical reason:

"act in such a way that the maxim of your will could always hold at the same time as a principle of a universal legislation."

Kant's moral philosophy is the most normative form of morality though he ultimately refers to the basics of ethics (one cannot go without the other):

"Nothing in the world—indeed nothing even beyond the world—can possibly be conceived which could be called good without qualification except a good will".

Besides, the raison d'être of the post was not to settle a universal question of morality but rather one specific action of war. So it certainly cannot be said that I am trying "to apply a standard that is applicable to all at all times and places" as you write.

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" The Believer gets his universal standard through Revelation."

Yes and since there are as many revelations than there are religions it also means that believers make universal was isn't by nature. We've been here before.

"The Utilitarian derives his standard through Reason

Yes and since there exists only one form of reason said reason is indeed universal.

This is why Kant calls his aesthetic transcendental, because it applies to all and everyone, there's no exception here and this is also why mathematics are universal (can you deny this?) because the human brain (from which reason which is the foundation of mathematics [time] and geometry [space] is an output) est organisé de la même façon ever since homosapiens appeared in Africa.

Flocon a dit…

"But they both claim that their standard is universal."

Yes and the former believe in an universality born out of fantasy (Revelation, but nothing has been revealed to me so far and if I were a Muslim my universality wouldn't be that of a Jew) whereas the later states that reason is the ultimate standard of truth and that (a+b)² = a² + 2ab + b² or that a²+b²=c² was exact 100.000 years ago and will be so till the end of Humanity, in China as well as in La Paz, in Durban as well as on the Space Station.

(it would be interesting to put a fundamentalist Muslim with an Orthodox Hassidic orbiting the earth in compagny of a traditionalist Catholic for a couple of months...)

Ned Ludd a dit…

Flocon, j'ai deux difficulties avec tes explications. J'ai consulté mon Larousse et il semble que "morale" est d'origine latine et "ethique" d'origine grec. Il indique même qu'ils sont synonymes.

Si il y a une difference, c'est que peut-être "la morale" a plus avoir avec le règles d'une société et "l'ethique est plus la "doctrine du bonheur des hommes" ou la "partie théorique de la morale".

Je ne pense que ni l'une ni l'autre s'applique à un "act in such a way that the maxim of your will could always hold at the same time as a principle of a universal legislation."

La "législation universale" n'existe pas, et "aesthetic transcendental, because it applies to all and everyone, there's no exception here" n'existe pas non plus.

L'éthique et la morale ont constamment changé dépuis nos origins. Enfin, ça a été pour la meilleur, mais qui sait pour l'avenir.

"Immanent" serait un meilleur mot, "se dit de ce qui est interne à un être ou à l'expérience.

Flocon a dit…

Désolé pour le retard mis à te répondre Ned,

Heu... tu reformules ce qui est déjà indiqué dans mes commentaires non?

Pour ce qui est de la distinction morale/éthique, j'y fais référence en mentionnant mores/ethos>. Je n'ai pas développé, ce qui aurait été une insulte à l'intelligence du lecteur.... ;-)

Oui l'un est d'origine grecque et l'autre latine.

"If there exists a difference between ethics and morality (mores and ethos)... ethics refers to our inner sense of what's good and bad whereas morality refers to the social norm of right and wrong. cf. droit naturel et droit positif."

Remarque que j'ai employé les mots "good" et "bad" pour l'éthique et "wrong" et "right" pour la morale...

Quand tu écris : " "la morale" a plus à voir avec les règles d'une société", tu te situes bien dans le cadre normatif, celui qui édicte les règles et celui dont traite Kant dont la Critique de la Raison Pratique vise à définir une règle universelle de moralité.

C'est là le sens de sa célèbre formule : " "act in such a way that the maxim of your will could always hold at the same time as a principle of a universal legislation."

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La "législation universal" n'existe pas.

C'est précisément une législation universelle que voulait établir Kant avec la formule ci-dessus. Si chacun agissait comme il le prescrit, cela fonderait la législation universelle. Celle-ci dépend donc des hommes et en ce sens on peut dire qu'elle est immanente.

Bien sûr que cela est utopique et même si la critique kantienne de la morale a eu beaucoup d'influence dans la littérature, it simply doesn't work. Mais on peut tout de même s'en inspirer.

"aesthetic transcendental, because it applies to all and everyone, there's no exception here" n'existe pas non plus.

Heu... tu mélanges deux domaines de la pensée ici.

La "législation universelle" concerne la morale et se trouve dans la Critique de la Raison pratique tandis que l'esthétique transcendantale traite des formes a priori de notre sensibilité (temps/espace) et se trouve dans la Critique de la Raison Pure.

And yes, "aesthetic transcendental, because it applies to all and everyone, there's no exception here" exists.

Ce sont nos formes a priori qui sont à l'origine des mathématiques (le temps) et de la géométrie (l'espace). See here.

Je ne comprends d'ailleurs pas pourquoi tu écris "aesthetic transcendental, because it applies to all and everyone, there's no exception here" n'existe pas non plus. I know how sensitive a person you are so I am being very cautious here mais dire que l'esthétique transcendantale n'existe pas est... hmmm... inappropriate.

Flocon a dit…

The difficulty here is to understand
-1° what transcendental aesthetics is.

-2° the link between Kant's teaching and the origin (in our brain) of mathematics and geometry.

-3° Once one has undestood the association between 1° and 2°, one can no longer contest the transcendentality of Kant's aesthetics.

Anonyme a dit…

Flocon/Ned: Your additional discussion anticipates a point I wish to make. Although the terms
"morality" and "ethics" are now, for all practical purposes, synonyms in everyday English usage, in Anglophone philosophy a distinction has been maintained.

Morality generally describes cultural norms and codes of conduct. What people generally accept, at a particular time and place, in a particular group, as proper conduct. It does not address what people "ought" to do in any universal sense. It does not even address what people actually do. Only what they agree publicly is acceptable.

Ethics, often particularized as
"normative ethics" purports to describe what people ought to do with some claim to universality (even if it is only within some sub-group like a profession ((as in "all medical doctors, all the time and everywhere, ought to do no harm)).

Perhaps the distinction is not made in French discussions.

I think that this is a useful distinction. With your indulgence, I will continue to make it.

It follows that nothing is moral or immoral per se (a conclusion I thought would meet with your agreement).


//Like every criminal who can kill kills, it is moral?// Clearly not. By definition, if the killing is a crime, it is not generally approved as acceptable conduct by the group at that time and place. But there is no permanence to these moral judgments.

The Aztec who put his prisoners of war under the knife on the altar 1000 years ago was acting in a way publicly accepted by all (including the prisoners, who would have returned the favor had the fortunes of war been reversed). By what standard can we condemn him?

Likewise, the firebombing of Tokyo in 1945 was moral, since it was approved as right conduct by all the Allied publics. But an area bombing of Hanoi in 1969 would have been immoral, since it would not have been approved as acceptable conduct by the US public at that time and place. This disapproval was formalized by legal conventions the US undertook since 1945.

To use a less sanguinary example, polygamy was moral in Utah in 1870, immoral in 1970, and will probably be moral in 2070.

I am surprised at Flocon's disagreement. I had always understood him to argue that there were no universal and permanent moral rules. To my amazement, he now hints that he is a utilitarian.

Well, Bentham does have an argument.

SemperFidelis

Flocon a dit…

SemperFidelis,

re the Aztec, this historical reminder is irrelevant because it has nothing to do with mores or ethics whatever.

Nobody would question the ritual practise of their tribe at the time and there was no option but to stick to the rules. There was no debates on whether that was the right thing to do or not, and no soul searching either.

We indeed cannot retrospectively judge (you use the word "condemn" which is a word of the judiciary realm) the Romans, the Maya, and all extinct civilisations and nobody seriously does but we can place them on a scale of human societies development, this is called anthropology and not morality.

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"Morality generally describes cultural norms and codes of conduct"

That leads to the utilitarian point of view that deems "moral" whatever suits the needs.

All the efforts of religions and philosophy precisely have been bound to find a norm of morality that can be accepted as universally valid, an immanent one for philosophers, a transcendent one for religions.

The search was for a norm that would not depend on people acceptance of whatever practice, which is the very opposite of morality.

"the firebombing of Tokyo in 1945 was moral, since it was approved as right conduct by all the Allied publics."

This where leads your definition of morality as global acceptance of what is needed. This is simply absurd and another expression that anything goes.

The Hamas sends rockets on Israel and this is moral because the practise is largely accepted by the Palestinians and the Arab world in general (something like 1 billion people).

Israel continuously grabs away Palestinian lands and this is moral because the practise is largely accepted by Jews in Israel on the one hand and in the US on the other hand.

Guantanamo is very moral since a majority of Americans brainwashed by their politicians and their media wholeheartedly accept it as the right thing to do.

The 9/11 attacks were moral since they were largely accepted by a majority of Muslims around the world (ask the Pakistanis how they feel about it).

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"an area bombing of Hanoi in 1969 would have been immoral, since it would not have been approved as acceptable conduct by the US public at that time and place".

And at the very same period napalm carpet bombing was moral because it was approved as acceptable conduct by the US public at that time and place?

Let's keep on with your Benthamish utilitarian view of morality.

Slavery in the US was moral because the huge majority of Americans at that time and place found it an acceptable practise. And the same goes of course with segregation of Negroes since it was accepted practise and parlance up to 1964.

Why is it that I'm not convinced with your definition of morality as "what 'people) agree publicly is acceptable.".

What about sticking to the old adage Don't do to others what you wouldn't want to be done upon you?

When I addressed the issue of the Hiro/Naga bombings, I presented four criteria that would help qualify the bombings as (relatively) moral as opposed to the Tokyo firebombings. These were real and actual arguments that have all evaporated in your answer. Dommage...

---
Re polygamy I fully agree with you. It definitively is not moral or immoral per se and has more to do with political correctness. The wives involved know of their situation and they apparently don't mind. Nothing is actually forced upon them, so on which ground should polygamy be called immoral?




Flocon a dit…

On the Basis of Morality

Anonyme a dit…

Floson:

//Let's keep on with your Benthamish utilitarian view of morality.//

You misunderstand. Morality is not concerned with utility.

Slavery was certainly moral in the Roman Empire. It was accepted by all as a proper economic arrangement.

But it clearly did not meet Bentham's universal standard of utility, because it did not produce the most benefit for the greatest number of people. It benefited a small number of people at the expense of many.

I am genuinely surprised at the direction of this conversation. For years, I understood you to hold that there were no universal standards against which to measure behavior.

You propose the "Golden Rule" as a standard. I personally accept it upon the authority of Scripture. But I don't see any other source of authority for its claim to universality.

SemperFidelis

Ned Ludd a dit…

Flocon, I think maybe the distinction SemperFidelis makes between moral and ethics is useful. I was just going mentione the "do on to others..." as an example of what ought to be done.

I completely disagree with your statement of women under polygamy, "Nothing is actually forced upon them, so on which ground should polygamy be called immoral?"

How can you say it is not forced? Even underage girls are forced into such "marriages" in the patriarchal religion. The same goes for women in harems. They didn't have a choice. Maybe those were the moral standards, but certainly not ethical.

More recently we have had dictators like Trujillo and Papa Doc who would women of any age that attracted them brought to them, which was neither moral nor ethical.

Flocon a dit…

SemperFidelis,

re the Golden Rule, " I don't see any other source of authority for its claim to universality."

See here then.

My reference: "Slavery in the US was moral because the huge majority of Americans at that time and place found it an acceptable practise. And the same goes of course with segregation of Negroes since it was accepted practise and parlance up to 1964."

Your "answer": "Slavery was certainly moral in the Roman Empire"...

Flocon a dit…

Ned,

On ne parle pas de la même chose là. Qu'est-ce que la polygamie sinon la reconnaissance d'un statut légal des maîtresses d'un homme? pourquoi cela serait-il "immoral"?

Semper faisait référence à la polygamie en Utah en 1870. la situation des femmes américaines d'alors peut-elle se comparer à celles des femmes d'un harem de l'empire Ottoman au XVIIe siècle?

S'il y a contrainte bien sûr que c'est immoral mais l'immoralité vise alors les conditions dans lesquelles est instaurée la polygamie, pas la polygamie en soi.

Si une femme fréquente plusieurs amants, en quoi est-ce immoral per se?. Unless she blackmails or threats the men for money or else -which would be immoral (don't do to others...).

Je trouve même la polygamie (homme/femmes, femme/hommes) plutôt morale même dans la mesure où c'est un remède contre la solitude et la misère sexuelle. It fulfills all criteria re the Golden Rule: Do to others what you would want to be done upon you.





Anonyme a dit…

Flocon:

//My reference: "Slavery in the US was moral because the huge majority of Americans at that time and place found it an acceptable practise. And the same goes of course with segregation of Negroes since it was accepted practise and parlance up to 1964." //

Certainly, if morality is what is acceptable in a particular culture at any particular time and place.

I hold that there is a universal standard independent of what is accepted at any particular time and place. You know what my standard is.

I had always understood you to take the position that there were no universal standards of conduct. I thought you were depending on cultural conventions and positive law for standards of behavior.

I am happy to be mistaken. Now we only disagree on the source of authority for our universal standard.

I fear Ned's intellectual consistency will cause her to bid us both a fond farewell on the issue.

Anijo is silent. I am interested in what she thinks about it.

In any case, I am grateful that we are discussing the matter in a civil and useful fashion. I enjoy it. It sharpens the mind.

By the way,during the planning stages of the Dresden raid, RAF Bomber Command's chaplain, Canon L. John Collins (who was later to lead the post-war nuclear disarmament campaign) invited the pious Christian socialist, Sir Stafford Cripps, who was Minister of Aircraft Production, to talk to senior RAF officers. He delivered a sermon along the lines of "God is my co-pilot." He emphasized that it was essential that they should be sure that they were attacking military targets. He is quoted and insisting that "Even when you are engaged in acts of wickedness, God is always looking over your shoulder." This lead to an angry scene, since Bomber Command believed that Sir Stafford's ministry was deliberately starving them of bomber aircraft for moralistic reasons. As a result, the senior officers demanded confirmation of the Dresden operation from their political leaders. The operational plan was confirmed directly from the Yalta Conference (The documents do not make it clear whether the confirmation came personally from Churchill or instead from Air Chief Marshal Portal. Personally, I think Churchill directed the confirmation, but lacked the courage to personally sign the order, so he passed it off to a senior military deputy. In any case, there is no evidence of disagreement at the top of the civil-military leadership.)

I am the only one faced with the unasked question: Accepting that the bombing of Hiroshima was moral at the time, was it sinful?

SemperFidelis

Anijo a dit…

I am the only one faced with the unasked question: Accepting that the bombing of Hiroshima was moral at the time, was it sinful?

I agree that it was moral if we accept the definition of morality vs ethics as follows:

Ethics is the rules for deciding proper conduct. While not absolutely timeless, ethical principles change very little though the ages. Morality is the standards for behavior that exist at some point in time. Compared to ethics, morality undergoes changes frequently. Compared with ethics, morality is more like a snapshot taken of something moving. Since the principles of ethics are more fundamental and stable, ethics is bigger than morality. Ethics is able to call morality - the existing standards for conduct - into question, and cause morality to change. As an example, consider slavery. Once it was considered moral to own slaves. Over time, ethics called the morality of slavery into question and the eventual result was that slavery was no longer considered moral.

Instead of asking was it sinful (as I am not a religious person), I prefer to ask, was it ethical? That is very complex for me to answer. Innocent civilians in Japan had to suffer, but if not them, then other innocent civilians in other countries would have to suffer.

And how to apply the Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity here? I wouldn't want to be nuked as an innocent civilian for acts my government had committed, so to approve of nuking the innocent Japanese civilians would not be ethical.

What is the right thing to do in complex situations is not black and white, but rather there are shades of grey.

Flocon a dit…

SemperFidelis,

"Anijo is silent. I am interested in what she thinks about it."

Anijo's painting her room in a colourful way, and when her mind is wandering, there she will go...

Flocon a dit…

Also,

The reason why we apparently are not agreed seems to stem from a difference on interpretation of words.

"morality is what is acceptable in a particular culture at any particular time and place."

I'm ok with this definition as long it is the definition of morality such as the one a sociologist or anthropologist would give. But it certainly isn't a definition of what is moral nor is it a framework for telling good from bad.

I have written it before, "your" definition of morality as what is acceptable etc. refers to right and wrong, not at all to good and bad.

The examples I have given, (the Hamas, slavery, 9/11 etc.) show that any thing can be deemed "moral" and its opposite also in the sense that it belongs to morality understood as what defines human beings' activity.

But of course there's nothing universal here, quite the opposite since there are as many samples of morality than there are spaces and times.

I also have made an innuendo to droit naturel vs. droit positif, to no avail apparently since nobody noticed... ;-(

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Churchill wasn't exactly proud of the Dresden bombing after the war but he said: History will be very kind to me because I intend to write it.

Flocon a dit…

Anijo,

Ton lien est très intéressant, je vais le lire après ce commentaire.

"What is the right thing to do in complex situations is not black and white, but rather there are shades of grey."

There are situations when eventually it all boils down to yes/no, I do/I abstain. Think death penalty for example.


As regards Hiroshima, I have to repeat myself, I gave four criteria that, IMHO, made the bombing (relatively) moral, or ethical if you prefer.

The Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings passed the test, the Dresden/Hamburg/Tokyo ones didn't.

----------

The question SemperFidelis asked wasn't to know whether the bombing was moral but whether it was sinful to accept the bombing as something moral.

It's an unasked question says Semper and one that is of a "higher" level. It is something like a second degree of interrogation over a first degree interrogation so to say.

Flocon a dit…

SemperFidelis,

When you write (among other examples) that "Slavery was certainly moral in the Roman Empire. It was accepted by all as a proper economic arrangement." what can be accepted in this statement is that slavery as a practise of the time was a sample of the moraility (mores) of that period but the misunderstanding here comes from the fact that the use of the word "morality" implies something positive and good whereas the word "morality" actually refers to l'ensemble des pratiques d'une société, indépendamment de leur valeur éthique.

Morality as a whole contains good and bad behaviours and it is the usual traps of language that make us associate "good" with morality whereas morality refers to l'ensemble de l'agir des hommes.

Ned Ludd a dit…

If memory serves, Nietzsche in "Beyond Good and Evil"(I'm not sure that "evil", böse, is a good translation from German), related morality to "good and bad". This was not "bad" in a moral or ethical sense, but was "bad" meaning "common" as for "common people" as opposed the elite or aristocratic ruling people.

So "bad" for him had simply descended from class distinctions established by the elite of course and finally became a moralistic evaluation.

It's been a long time since I read it, but I am sure that Flocon can correct if I got it wrong.

Anijo a dit…

Flocon,

Comme moi, tu as souvent une chanson qui vient à l'esprit. C'est genial. ♪ ♫

Anonyme a dit…

Flocon: //the use of the word "morality" implies something positive and good whereas the word "morality" actually refers to l'ensemble des pratiques d'une société, indépendamment de leur valeur éthique.//

Exactly. We all seem to agree that moral standards make no claim to permanence or universality. I have mistakenly believed that exhausted the subject as far as you were concerned. Now I learn that you admit ethical standards that are independent of current cultural convention. You suggest the "Golden Rule." In some posts, this standard seems to recommend itself to you as a common consensus held by most people over most of time. In others, you seem to suggest it is the product of Reason. Both could be true.

SemperFidelis

Anijo a dit…

T'as raison Flocon re droit naturel et droit positif.

natural law, theory that some laws are basic and fundamental to human nature and are discoverable by human reason without reference to specific legislative enactments or judicial decisions. Natural law is opposed to positive law, which is human-made, conditioned by history, and subject to continuous change.

Flocon a dit…

SemperFidelis,

In some posts, this standard seems to recommend itself to you as a common consensus held by most people over most of time. In others, you seem to suggest it is the product of Reason. Both could be true.

Nothing could be more true!

In my opinion, the Golden Rule is both a natural moral standard and one which is recommended by reason.

It's all a matter of reciprocity and survival in the end.

Au-delà de toutes les individualités particulières, it is the fate of the human race that is at stake here. In order to protect all its manifestations, Nature will prevent them to kill each others to the very last one.

The Golden Rule est un moyen de régulation de l'espèce humaine basée sur le sentiment de réciprocité. It's a safeguard against mutual annihilation, some kind of natural MAD.

The Golden Rule is an immanent rule of Nature (droit naturel) turned into positive law by means of Reason.

No transcendental rule here and no revelation or scriptures needed either. There would exist no Golden Rule should the world be inhabited by plants or animals only.

Flocon a dit…

Anijo,

"T'as raison Flocon re droit naturel et droit positif."

Of course I'm right Anijo, and I know I am; just nobody cares and nobody believes me either.

Just look at Ned's comment above:

"Flocon, I think maybe the distinction SemperFidelis makes between moral and ethics is useful."

And here we go again along the same old line: SemperFi dadadi, SemperFi dadada, SemperFi wouldn't have said this, Semperfi would have said that and blah blah blah...

Just what has he that others don't have? [ô_Ô]

Anijo a dit…

Just what has he that others don't have?

In his opinion, it's the uniform. ;)

Flocon a dit…

But this is totally immoral then!

Anijo a dit…

But this is totally immoral then!

Wait, is it not totally moral then, as it represents agreed upon values. But then Ned doesn't strike me as the kind of female who would be akin to uniforms.. ;)

Anijo a dit…

Flocon,

For anglophones, 'droit naturel' is akin to ethics and 'droit positif' is akin to morals.

Ned Ludd a dit…

Some years ago I posted here or at SF and article by Stephen J. Gould Kropotkin was not a Crackpot

For memory I quote a couple of extracts.

"This charge against Darwin is unfair for two reasons. First, nature (no matter how cruel in human terms) provides no basis for our moral values. (Evolution might, at most, help to explain why we have moral feelings, but nature can never decide for us whether any particular action is right or wrong.) Second, Darwin’s “struggle for existence” is an abstract metaphor, not an explicit statement about bloody battle. Reproductive success, the criterion of natural selection, works in many modes: Victory in battle may be one pathway, but cooperation, symbiosis, and mutual aid may also secure success in other times and contexts"...

"I would fault Kropotkin only in two ways – one technical, the other general. He did commit a common conceptual error in failing to recognize that natural selection is an argument about advantages to individual organisms, however they may struggle. The result of struggle for existence may be cooperation rather than competition, but mutual aid must benefit individual organisms in Darwin’s world of explanation. Kropotkin sometimes speaks of mutual aid as selected for the benefit of entire populations or species – a concept foreign to classic Darwinian logic (where organisms work, albeit unconsciously, for their own benefit in terms of genes passed to future generations). But Kropotkin also (and often) recognized that selection for mutual aid directly benefits each individual in its own struggle for personal success. Thus, if Kropotkin did not grasp the full implication of Darwin’s basic argument, he did include the orthodox solution as his primary justification for mutual aid"...

"There are no shortcuts to moral insight. Nature is not intrinsically anything that can offer comfort or solace in human terms – if only because our species is such an insignificant latecomer in a world not constructed for us."

Flocon a dit…

Anijo,

re Droit naturel et droit positif, l'équivalence que tu donnes (ethics and moral) indique bien à quel point il est essentiel de s'entendre sur le sens des termes que l'on emploie dans ce genre de discussions.

One must not mistake a screwdriver with an adjustable spanner otherwise misunderstanding is guaranteed..

Flocon a dit…

Ned,

Oui je me souviens du lien vers Kropotkin was not a Crackpot que tu as donné il y a quelques mois. Mais c'était un autre extrait.

Celui-ci est tout à fait approprié au sujet.