Chemical Warfare Ethics

Chemical Warfare Ethics - Ian Ratliff ISAT 131 Chemical...

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Ian Ratliff ISAT 131 March 28, 2008 Chemical Warfare Being in the 21 st Century, technology has reshaped war itself. Many questions are arising about the ethics of chemical warfare. Chemical warfare is the use of chemical agents to kill, incapacitate or demoralize an enemy. Though, this form of killing is not new to war. In 431 B.C., the Spartans used burning sulfur and pitch to engulf cities with sulfur dioxide. This was an inexpensive way to kill hundreds without losing a valuable soldier. Chemical warfare is horrid yet so cheap and easy to make and store, it opens up doors for countries who cannot afford to invest nuclear technology; but is it the right thing to do? Historically, chemical agents have been used in many ways to kill millions of dedicated soldiers and civilians. In World War I, more than 100,000 tons of lung destroying chlorine and blister agents called mustard gases, caused more than 100,000 deaths and about 1.2 million injuries. Looking at these numbers, in no way is chemical warfare a deontological approach. A deontologist, such as Immanuel Kant, would claim that the action of killing is wrong. Not only do chemical weapons kill, but they do so on a wide scale. The ethical debate of chemical warfare is a tricky one. Chemical weapons are a subsidiary of war itself, which many will argue is unethical. The riddance of war is what many have strived for throughout the ages, but as humans we know this goal is impossible. We are now dealing with ethics on another level. Since it is farfetched to eliminate war, the Geneva Conventions were created to reduce the level of barbarity. Chemical weapons serve the same function as most other weapons which is to simply 1
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produce enemy casualties. Generally a force is more successful when it contains a weapon that can produce the most enemy casualties while saving its own soldiers, which
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This note was uploaded on 04/20/2008 for the course ISAT 131 taught by Professor Tang during the Spring '08 term at James Madison University.

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Chemical Warfare Ethics - Ian Ratliff ISAT 131 Chemical...

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