A Moral Military by Sidney Axinn

By Sidney Axinn

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If all humans are equal moral objects, how shall we think about war? The assumption that each of us is an equally significant moral object has several direct implications. For one, we ought to be treated equally: Equality or fairness means that we must all play by the same rules. Whatever the activity (or game), we must all follow the same set of rules because no one of us deserves more than another. Applied to individuals, this assumption means that each of us must act only by principles that we could understand applying to everyone.

As we might expect, the Golden Rule has its advantages and limitations. This discussion has dealt with the rational rather than the religious foundations of the Rule. Religion as Art From a purely rational viewpoint, not one of the elements of the religious position seems to be a legitimate foundation for morality. Even if a position has no literal or objective status, however, it may be extremely useful and significant. Like literature, religious stories may be enjoyable and have great value even if they are not dependable as sources of morality.

Why else pay attention? The individualist starts with this commonsense advantage. In addition, there is the argument that the dignity of the individual depends on taking him- or herself to be of major significance in the world. A slave is pressed into service for someone else, a free person lives for him- or herself. The dignity of freedom seems to require that individuals do not sacrifice themselves. To sacrifice is to give up something desirable, presumably for the sake of something more desirable.

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