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ethics news 1

New translation, the Magna Carta
article archives at abelard's news and comment zoneethics archive: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

ethics and the ‘just war’ 1

law and sentience—creeping towards rational ethics

“A major problem in making progress with animal rights law is the question of "standing" in the courts. Animals cannot generally be plaintiffs in lawsuits. But Wise argues that the law makes many exceptions already. "Most judges already know that under the law as it stands, membership in any species is not enough by itself to entitle any being to legal personhood," he said. "It is the dignity that derives from the ability to wield what I call a 'realistic, or practical autonomy' that is sufficient. Once any one legal right is given to any one nonhuman animal, the legal inquiry for basic rights can begin to shift from the question of 'are you a human being?' to 'do you have the necessary realistic autonomy?' The best initial candidate species, I believe, are the great apes, particularly chimpanzees and bonobos."

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franchise by examination, education and intelligence

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franchise by
education and



reporter bias
—why do reporters imagine that they are a special case?

“He said: "Killing journalists either deliberately or by gross negligence should be made official war crimes under international law."”

Will this apply to deaths by drunken driving?
Will it only apply to ‘journalists’?

“Please sir, could I see your press card? You see, if I kill a ‘peace activist’ or an ‘innocent bystander’ by ‘gross negligence’, it is less serious than if I do in a ‘journalist’”
“ And just in case sir, can I take it you are not in any other specially protected category, I sure would not like to be dun for a hate crime as well as a war crime!”

We clearly need a tariff so as the judge gets it right :

  • 3 years if you do in a common or garden variety
  • doubled if it is either a ‘journalist’ or a ‘protected person’
  • and re-doubled if it is both.

Reporters have a strange view that reports about reporters are more significant than reports about ‘real people’.

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an advanced civilisation meets the dark ages—contrasting behaviour

It is estimated that the Ba’ath Socialist Party leader, Madsam, has been responsible for approximately 2 million deaths, and has caused approximately 4 million refugees.

Coalition orders:   kill as few Iraqis as possible.
Madsam’s orders: kill as many Americans as possible

And a speech given by a commander to his troops preparing to free Iraq:

“THE enemy should be in no doubt that we are his Nemesis and that we are bringing about his rightful destruction. There are many regional commanders who have stains on their souls and they are stoking the fires of Hell for Saddam. As they die they will know their deeds have brought them to this place. Show them no pity. But those who do not wish to go on that journey, we will not send. As for the others, I expect you to rock their world.

“We go to liberate, not to conquer. We will not fly our flags in their country. We are entering Iraq to free a people, and the only flag that will be flown in that ancient land is their own. Don’t treat them as refugees, for they are in their own country.

“I know men who have taken life needlessly in other conflicts. They live with the mark of Cain upon them. If someone surrenders to you, then remember they have that right in international law, and ensure that one day they go home to their family. The ones who wish to fight, well, we aim to please. If there are casualties of war, then remember, when they woke up and got dressed in the morning they did not plan to die this day. Allow them dignity in death. Bury them properly, and mark their graves.

“You will be shunned unless your conduct is of the highest, for your deeds will follow you down history. Iraq is steeped in history. It is the site of the Garden of Eden, of the Great Flood, and the birth of Abraham. Tread lightly there. You will have to go a long way to find a more decent, generous and upright people than the Iraqis. You will be embarrassed by their hospitality, even though they have nothing ...

“There may be people among us who will not see the end of this campaign. We will put them in their sleeping bags and send them back. There will be no time for sorrow. Let’s leave Iraq a better place for us having been there. Our business now, is north.”

[Speech written by Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Collins, 42-year-old commander of The Royal Irish battle group. He delivered it to his troops in Kuwait on the afternoon of 19.03.03, just hours before they went into battle.]

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Further commentary on just war and its relationship with modern, evolving law
  1. ‘Law’ is not ‘law’, if it not enforced.
  2. Not all ‘law’ is somehow automatically legitimate. Take, for example, the anti-Jewish Nuremberg ‘laws’ in Hitler’s National Socialist Germany; and doubtless Madsam (Saddam Hussein) has some sort of pretence at ‘laws’, which serve his purposes.
    1. Law requires some form of ethical backing. A ‘law’ of the UN, where half the law givers are illegitimate rulers, is not acceptable—at least not to me.
    2. Legitimate government cannot abnegate its responsibilities to an outside organisation, let alone to an organisation largely peopled by illegitimate rulers.
      At least, this has been, roughly, moral teaching for thousands of years.
  3. The removal of Madsam does not stand, or fall, by any single strand.
    1. Removing him because he is perpetrating great wrongs on the people of Irak is perfectly legitimate ethics, and time-honoured moral teaching.
    2. Likewise, if he poses a credible threat to others.

    On both or either of these counts, Madsam is a suitable case for treatment.

The morality of war on Iraq

“This week the leaders of the Church of England and the Roman Catholic church in Britain have both spoken out against a war on Iraq and Saddam Hussein, and doubt the morality of an attack on Iraq.”

“If Saddam is not removed, it is the appeasers who will have the blood of innocents on their hands.” [bigboard]

Indeed. I have been reading recent (2003) comments by Rome on the theory of ‘just war’. It is incredible but clear that, generally, Roman clerics are completely ignorant of the relevant arguments, or of the subtlety of the arguments. Another problem is that reports of these comments are regularly being extracted from context by the media as a dishonest means of applying spin.

More recent faults include

  • an inability to distinguish between a ‘war’ and a police action;
  • an inability to comprehend the ‘legitimacy’ of controllers of states;
  • an inability to understand that there is no clear distinction between ‘a war of aggression’ and ‘a war of defence’;
  • they do not clearly understand the differences between real individuals and the ‘abstract’ notion of the state;
  • they are untutored in cost/benefit analysis, in other words they are untutored in enlightenment philosophy. And there is more in the details.

The ignorance of the Roman clergy is quite appalling. They mouth left-wing clichés, not theology or philosophy.

The clerics give the appearance of not being educated beyond the age of 12 years old. Why? They have been usually brainwashed into idealism and then persuaded into joining seminaries at about that age.

Now, mind control, Vatican style, some recent social history in a factionalised forrmat:

"Peter Mullan's incendiary new film, The Magdalene Sisters, has already made headlines for provoking the Vatican, and thereby earned itself a pre-release reputation that would be the envy of any publicity department. The film lands some well-aimed blows on the Catholic Church in general, and on nuns in particular, but let no one assume that they're the only offenders. A whole society is on trial here, an Ireland of not very distant memory in which social, familial and moral hypocrisy combined to banish innocent young women to a lifetime of servitude and lovelessness. Dickens could hardly have rendered these stolen lives more piteous."

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‘just war'

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the ‘just war’

the legal position on intervention, by rees-mogg

“Europe has chosen to leave the job to the United States. Now France and Germany have become hostile to the United States’s way of doing the job; indeed, they are backing a violent and genocidal regime against the United States. Law can never be separated from enforcement. The United States is operating inside modern conceptions of justifiable intervention; France and Germany are trying to prevent international law being enforced.”

This item not only looks at the meaning of law, but also states some essentials concerning the operation of the law in Britain.

It is a very useful analysis, and a full reading is highly recommended.

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the logic of ethics
the ‘just war’

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the logic of

the ‘just war’

Ethics and escapism

This article is more interesting than most. A shame about the Aristotelian on/off ‘logic’—either Aristotle or Plato—that pervades the piece. It is foolishness to become entrapped by ‘either/or’.

The most important comment in the article:

“What at first appears to be a high-minded stance against using force against Saddam Hussein is in reality a recipe for raising children to be the sort of ethical eunuchs and moral neutrals who will lack the character to fight the good fight in any field.”

I have been increasingly concerned by the lack of any ethical or moral compass in the ranks of the peaseniks.

If anything, I would contrast escapism with realism. Theory and practice are partners in advance. Escapism is mere moral and intellectual bankruptcy—an addiction little different from alcoholism.

[link from Mel Rowing]

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the ‘just war’

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the ‘just war’

“Official plan for reconstruction of post-war Iraq”

“The writer is deputy national security adviser to President Bush.”

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new activist group—statement of principles

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new activist group—
statement of principles

‘genocide’ in irak—just cause for action

Class article by Rees-Mogg;
highly recommended.

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new activist group—statement of principles

“5. Democracy entails a principled commitment to resolving disputes through non-violent means, both at home and abroad. As such, democracies do not make war on one another. In the long run, spreading democracy is the only demonstrated and sustainable means of preventing international conflict.

A recommended read – short.

This item is the writing on the wall for the future, and the beginning of the end to dictatorships.
A growing mood is that dictatorships will no longer be tolerated.
This is a historic change in progression.

Watch it grow.

[Lead from Frogman.
Note, this is a very useful blog by a French dissenter. The current banner display is also unlike the usual French head-in-the-sand peasenik reaction. Parallel English and French versions.]

the web address for this article is


reconstruction after removal of incompetent regimes

As the Cold War recedes and the Net increasingly informs the public with uncensored news, so the public take more interest in the actions of their governments.

Increasingly, Western governments are having to make provision for humanitarian follow-up in the train of removing oppressive and incompetent regimes.

From the article:

“ "That choice belongs to the Iraqi people. Yet we will ensure that one brutal dictator is not replaced by another. All Iraqis must have a voice in the new government, and all citizens must have their rights protected," Bush said.”

“The Bush administration forgot to add funding in its 2004 federal budget proposal to reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, only to have go back and put in $300 million.”

Large amounts of resources seem to be in process of being set aside for the reconstruction of Irak after the removal of Madsam’s gang.

the web address for this article is


ethics and war—assessing collateral effects of weapons

“... a new clause attached to the funding calls for the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to investigate what effect any use of the weapon would have.

“The clause was added by moderates when the Senate and House of Representatives met to finalise the Defense Authorization Act, published last week. The demand comes on top of a requirement that the military assess conventional alternatives...”

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the ‘just war’

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the ‘just war’

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