Defenders of collateral damage claim that it is inescapable, that when conducting a war, there is no pragmatic way to avoid civilian casualties, so critics need to "get over it."
Let's examine the assumptions underlying this argument.
When analyzing any argument, the conclusion and reasons must be kept in clear view; otherwise, a mass jumble of information becomes confusing and the conclusion initially argued for is lost.
So the claim of the argument is : After all precautions have been taken to avoid civilian casualties, collateral damage is morally justified.
What is the reason? Collateral damage is inevitable in war, even with the strictest precautions.
Clearly the conclusion does not follow from the reason, but that is only because the underlying assumptions have not been brought forward. All argument is like this. Reasons alone do not necessarily imply conclusions without substituting the assumptions connecting the reasons to the conclusions (whether those assumptions be factual or valuative).
So, to make the argument valid, what assumptions is the defender of collateral damage making?
There are a few ways to do this. I could plug in the most unfavorable assumptions possible, thereby making it easier to attack the argument; or I could plug in the most favorable (if I were a defender of this view) to make the argument the strongest.
I plan to do my best to make the most reasonable interpretation I can, but I'm sure there will be disagreement. For the record, when I use the word justified, I mean morally justified, but I don't wanna type that out over and over. I'm also going to stop using the euphemism "collateral damage," so as to ensure the argument is accurately portrayed.
Reason: Killing civilians is required to win a war.
Assumption: All actions required to win a war are justified. (this assumes the ends justify the means, which has some very disturbing implications. It also assumes war is justified, which implies that mass killing is justified).
Conclusion: Killing civilians is justified in a war.
I'm not claiming these are all the assumptions underlying the argument, just a few.
What say you?
War is Hell. Yes, civilians die. Nobody who is sane wants war. Unfortunately, it is necessary at times, and yes, there is collateral damage. It's an unfortunate reality.
I have to agree with that, the concept of a just war is a nebulous one at best but there is such a thing (I would argue it's a very long time since we waged such a war as the US) but in those situations yes, innocents will be hurt and it's utterly horrible, everything should be done to avoid it but ultimately it will happen.
What is utterly unforgivable is targeting civilians and we have certainly done that before on the basic that the ends justify it, I don't agree.
Nor is "they did it first" a moral argument. The intentional targeting of civilian centers in WW2 conventional bombings, Nagasaki and Hiroshima and the Vietnam war (particularly in Cambodia) are not covered by collateral damage, that is intentional genocide/mass murder aimed at civilian populations.
The reason, assumption and reasoning are all flawed. For example, killing civilians is not required to win a war, IF the soldiers will separate themselves geographically from all civilians, AND civilians will not participate in the war effort. Is a civilian building a war plane a viable target?
The assumption is flawed in that not ALL actions are justified. Killing civilians in certain circumstances is, but that does not mean that all actions are, or that civilians can be slaughtered indiscriminately.
So the connection between the two is nearly nonexistent as stated. Both need re-worked to even come close to truth or morality.
I'm not arguing for this view, but I think you are attacking the truth of the reason and assumption more than the logic. If you assume the reason and assumptions are true, it does follow that killing civilians is justified, even if the reason and assumption are completely false. Logic and the truth of the reasons are not the same.
I was basing the argument on what I've heard from defenders of civilian deaths. I was just trying to lay it out in clear form.
I think you bring up a good point about civilians building weapons. They are participating in the war effort right? They are contributing. However, if we follow this line of thought, people who pay taxes are also contributing, so nearly all civilians would be fair game. Thus, there would be no problem with immoral civilian deaths at all! (at least mostly). This is also the reasoning Osama bin Laden used. He claimed civilian weren't innocent in the United States because they were allowing American foreign policy to continue unabated.
The second premise you have a problem with is the universality of the claim. It isn't saying ALL killings of civilians are justified, just that all actions REQUIRED TO WIN a war are justified. This doesn't mean there won't be "immoral" civilian casualties; it just means the casualties that are required to win are morally justified, which will include some civilians. According to defenders of this (I'm almost a pacifist, so I have huge problems with the entire argument).
by Alexander A. Villarasa2 hours ago
The above question I see a lot being asked by materialists when the discussion turns to topics about the spiritual and supernatural. They off-handedly deny the existence of the spiritual and...
by David Bowman5 weeks ago
Warning: This thread is intended as a serious discussion for those interested in philosophy. Posts that attempt to proselytize or derail the discussion with an unrelated subject matter will not receive a response from...
by Tessa Schlesinger3 weeks ago
I find it disconcerting that some on Hubpages assume that someone living in South Africa can't know much about anything. Quite apart from the fact that until two years ago I was an American immigrant, but after 11 years...
by Sooner284 years ago
After reading a critical thinking book recently, the author stumbled upon something that I think was much more fundamental than she realized, since it was only mentioned in passing and not taken up again ANYWHERE in the...
by sabrebIade6 years ago
Has anyone seen this? And if so...what do you think? WARNING:This video is graphic and could be very disturbing to some. It disturbed the hell outta me. <link snipped, please do not post graphic material>
by jerami7 years ago
I Know that I have. We all have and still do. Some people lead us into them for their own purpose. Assume ...ass.(out of).u.(and). me ... We all make assumptions. ...
Copyright © 2017 HubPages Inc. and respective owners.
Other product and company names shown may be trademarks of their respective owners.
HubPages® is a registered Service Mark of HubPages, Inc.
HubPages and Hubbers (authors) may earn revenue on this page based on affiliate relationships and advertisements with partners including Amazon, Google, and others.