War, Morality, and the Military Profession

By Malham M. Wakin | Go to book overview
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far toward solving the fundamental problem of which the paradoxes are symptoms: the apparent incompatibility of the moral principles we use to evaluate acts and agents. Perhaps this problem can be solved. Perhaps the coins of agent and act evaluation can be successfully fused. But it is not apparent how this is to be done. And I, for one, do not presently see an entirely satisfactory way out of the perplexities that the paradoxes engender.


An earlier version of this paper was presented at Stanford University. I am grateful to several people, especially Robert Marrihew Adams, Tyler Burge, Warren Quinn, and Virginia Warren, for helpful comments on previous drafts. My work was supported, in part, by a Regents' Faculty Research Fellowship from the University of California.

The Strategy of Conflict ( New York: Oxford, 1960), Chapters 1-2; and Arms and Influence ( New Haven, Conn.: Yale, 1966), Chapter 2.
See, e.g., Herman Kahn, On Thermonuclear War, 2d ed. ( Princeton, N.J.: University Press, 1960), p. 185; and Anthony Kenny, "Counterforce and Countervalue", in Walter Stein, ed., Nuclear Weapons:A Catholic Response ( London: Merlin Press, 1965), pp. 162-64.
See, e.g., note 9, below.
Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia ( New York: Basic Books, 1974), pp. 30/1 n; Thomas Nagel, "War and Massacre", Chapter 21 in this volume; Richard Brandt, "Utilitarianism and the Rules of War", Philosophy and Public Affairs 4, no. 2 ( Winter 1975), especially note 3.
Extensions of absolutism that would block some or all of the paradoxes include those which forbid intending to do what is wrong, deliberately making oneself less virtuous, or intentionally risking performing an inherently evil act. (An explanation of the relevant sense of 'risking performing an act' will be offered in Section IV.)
I assume henceforth that, if it would be wrong to do something, the agent knows this. (The agent, discussed in Section IV, who has become corrupt may be an exception.) This keeps the discussion of the paradoxes from getting tangled up with the separate problem of whether an agent's duty is to do what is actually right, or what he believes is right.
See Peter Abelard's Ethics, D. E. Luscombe, trans. ( New York. Oxford, 1971), pp. 5-37; Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, 1a2ae. 18-20; Joseph Butler , "A Dissertation on the Nature of Virtue", in Five Sermons ( Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1950), p. 83; Immanuel Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, first section; Jeremy Bentham, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legisiation, chap. 9, secs. 13-16; Henry Sidgwick, The Methods of Ethics ( New York: Dover, 1907), pp. 60/1, 201-204; Kenny,


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