Thinking Morally Right and Wrong

Thinking Morally Right and Wrong

For this forum I am providing five questions you can discuss. Answer just one—you really don’t need to do more than one, and you can pick whichever one you like. QUESTION 1

Defending innocent people against an attack is a very nice thing to do, but is it morally required of us? Let me put this another way: we have a moral duty not to harm others, but do we have a duty to defend others who are being harmed by someone else? (These questions come up when we think about wars of humanitarian intervention).

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What do you think?

QUESTION 2

Sometimes we consider going to war on humanitarian grounds. In other words, we are not going to war to protect ourselves, we are going to war to protect someone else. Here’s an argument that says this can be morally justified:

1. War in defense of others can be justified.

2. Wars of humanitarian intervention are wars in defense of others.

3. Therefore, wars of humanitarian intervention can be justified. (1, 2)

Evaluate this argument: Is it valid? Is it sound?

QUESTION 3

Some people think having nuclear weapons as a way of deterring other countries from attacking us is morally wrong. They argue that it’s wrong to use nuclear weapons, therefore it’s wrong to threaten to use them.

They seem to be making an argument like this:

1. Using nuclear weapons is morally wrong.

2. Therefore, threatening to use nuclear weapons (by actually preparing them for use) is morally wrong.

Evaluate this argument and look for objections…

QUESTION 4

Here’s another argument that wars of humanitarian intervention can be morally justified:

1. Sovereignty is important only because a state needs that in order to protect the rights of its citizens.

2. Therefore, if the state violates those rights, then we can ignore its sovereignty.

3. Therefore, wars of humanitarian intervention are not impermissible violations of sovereignty.

Evaluate this argument: Is it valid? Is it sound? Look for objections…

QUESTION 5

Most people who want nuclear disarmament want mutual disarmament. However, some say that we should go ahead and get rid of our nuclear weapons even if other countries do not. In other words, they advocate unilateral nuclear disarmament.

To most of us that sounds crazy–far too risky. However, let’s give the idea a chance. One could argue that if we unilaterally get rid of our nuclear weapons, the risk of attack is higher but the risk of nuclear war is lower, and that we are safer, on balance, that way.

What do you think?