degeneration of the democratic system may lead to a

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Unformatted text preview: xamines in detail the connection between war and morality. He identifies the basic contradiction between the myth of the heroic defender and the problem of killing another human being, which in all societies is either unequivocally condemned or at least has a dubious moral status. The development of civilization has led to a decrease in interpersonal violence, from slavery and duels, through private armies, to allowing the right to the use of force only to states. Aggressive wars aimed at territorial conquests have become increasingly unacceptable in Western societies. The pacifist movement finds support in the expansion of trade and the globalisation of the economy. However, there are still many countries in the world which wage aggressive wars against each other, and commit atrocities, which the democratic, individualistic societies cannot efficiently suppress. In fact, they are unable to prevent terrorist attacks on their own territory. This inability stems from the reluctance on The concept of ‘war’ in the humanities 81 the part of democratic societies to take risks and hazard the lives of their soldiers. If refraining from war is not possible, then the operation of the international law should minimise the casualties. (As pointed out above, the enforcement of such laws is often faulty, but the very emergence of the concept and not necessarily its immediate and complete implementation seems an important development in the approach to war and its moral dimension.) Degeneration of the democratic system may lead to a situation in which the only motivation behind a government’s decisions is its future re-election. This, combined with the inclination of a liberal consumer society for peace and inaction may result in a replacement of democratic mechanisms based on an informed public opinion with a populist demagogy awakening the primitive desire for a scapegoat by intensifying the sense of constant threat. The issue of the morality of war can be further complicated if we consider the so-called humanitarian intervention. As in the contemporary world every war may affect the functioning of the global economy and threaten the security of other societies, the need for an intervention of a third party into a bilateral conflict has increased significantly. The basic moral question in this new situation remains a balance between the aims and means employed to solve the conflict. The means may vary from verbal (diplomatic intervention), through economic (an embargo) to military intervention. Even within military intervention further subdivisions can be introduced, for example between an intervention conducted with or without the permission of the government of the country in question. As in the case of war the fundamental moral problem was the one between the myth of a hero and the necessity to deprive other humans of life, so in the case of humanitarian intervention the primary problem is to strike a balance between possible imperialistic intervention conducted in the name of humanitarianism on the one hand and the parochialism of consumer societies which...
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This essay was uploaded on 02/24/2014 for the course LING 1100 taught by Professor Friedman during the Fall '09 term at Cornell.

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