Ethical Guidebook

A discussion of the difference between our personal values and our public ethics, how mature citizens can support both, and why our love for public ethics must trump our love for personal and group values when they conflict in the public space. Ethics offers a guidebook for evaluating public issues and finding multilateral solutions to endless cycles of values centric conflicts and unilateral violence.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The stream of disagreements about the current IRAQ conflict flow around a large rock called 'supporting the troops'. The implication is that our soldier warriors are assumed to be doing a great job and that autmatically somehow means the job is worth doing, independent of why they were sent, what effect it is actually having, whether they apply ethics beyond saving their buddy, and in the end, what ethical framework defines and constrains their role.

So while I support and empathize fully with the difficult value decisions that face individuals thrust into combat situations, I find ethics is actually getting pretty short shrift. We're seeing way too much in the way of values based decisions and judge-jury-executioner action, and way too little ethics based due process that says soldiers cannot just shoot into a crowd after they are fired upon, and cannot kill just to protect their buddy from a 'possible' attack.

For unbiased, ethical use of force, we look to police and to coalition managed soldiers (eg UN hosted actions) because they are much better at setting an ethical framework and constraints that give what many folks call 'moral' foundation to a war (what they really mean is ethical due process beyond pure self-interest of the parties). This is necessary to give soldiers a framework for war beyond kill or be killed. For example, the same soldier participating in a UN-coordinated police action is a lot different ethically, than a soldier in a unilateral war based on promoting the self-interested values of the participant soldiers, for that reason. Interesting thought, no?


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