Cacciatto - Charles Thompson Steve Hiltz Philosophy 1318 2...

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Charles Thompson Steve Hiltz Philosophy 1318 2 December 2007 It’s Still A War Tim O’Brien’s “Going After Cacciato” is a stunning picture of the war in Vietnam drawn from the perspective of the enlisted soldier. The novel is a fictitious account of happenings in the war; however O’Brien is a Vietnam veteran. O’Brien wrote this narrative from the perspective of an observer who is able to convey the thoughts and feelings of one character, Paul Berlin. Throughout the book, O’Brien works to illustrate the many emotions, decisions, and uncertainties of the soldier. The story is wrought with material that naturally presses the reader to analyze it from a moral standpoint. The interesting dilemma for the reader soon becomes deciding how to apply moral theories and philosophies to the soldier, rather than the political figure. It is much more common to place moral judgment on those who decide to go to war than to do so to those who are conscripted into service, and are merely following orders. This, however, does not excuse soldiers from moral accountability. In order to truly grasp where a soldier’s moral responsibilities lye, one must first look to Just War Theory and its two main principles: “Jus ad Bellum”, and “Jus in Bello”. Jus ad Bellum, or right to war, is one of the criteria for a just war. The right to war requires many other criteria be fulfilled in order to actually have a right to war. This cannot, however, be applied to a soldier purely for the fact that it is not the soldier’s decision whether to go to war. Jus in Bello, on the other hand, does apply
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to soldiers being that it refers to conduct in war, “right in war.” The primary principles that make up the right in war are the principles of proportionality, discrimination. The principle of proportionality essentially forbids needless killing and destruction, and the principle of discrimination forbids the killing of innocents and the destruction of non-military institutions. Beyond common moral guidelines, “Going After Cacciato” gives a look into the mind of enlisted soldiers to understand what they believe to be their responsibilities. Among other things, one of the main responsibilities a soldier has is to fight. O’Brien paints an interesting picture of what actually motivates a soldier to fight. From this novel, one can easily see that motivation to fight is specific to the person. What one person values and sees as incentive is not necessarily what drives everyone else. Most of all, he shows the lack of purpose that is presented to the soldiers by the administration and those of higher rank. The most they can offer as motivation to fight is a “kill or be killed” mentality. He illustrates the lack of information that the soldiers have as to why they are fighting, and who the enemy really is. For this reason, many soldiers have to find their own reasons to fight. Survival is the paramount motivation for the soldiers to fight while in battle. It is a fact of war that if one doesn’t fight,
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course PHIL 1318 taught by Professor None during the Fall '08 term at SMU.

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Cacciatto - Charles Thompson Steve Hiltz Philosophy 1318 2...

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