Posted by: G. Lane Cavalier | June 12, 2008

Life: Morals or Beliefs?

The following is a reply posting on my Moral Philosophy class discussion board to an individual that stated we could not “Morally Judge” the actions of 9/11.

My point is that we can judge actions against a set of Morals, because actions come from a decision based on morals and beliefs.

Here it is>>>>

This is a very interesting thread, and has basically turned to the discussion of the concepts we read in both Rachel and Monday’s readings. You last line would indicate that you believe in Cultural Relativism which is ok, because it is by many an accepted viewpoint.

What I do challenge is the implication that the actions or ‘results’ of 9/11 are indicative of morals rather than beliefs.
It is obvious from many viewpoints that the morals of the Fundamentalist Muslims are in many ways similar. They do not kill for pleasure, whether we agree with their beliefs or not, they view terrorism as a way of fighting a war against a superior (by number and technology) enemy. But the core moral foundation for which they do so is the protection of their way of life and their religious beliefs for the betterment of their peoples. Their actions are based on a different belief system than our own.

The moral argument which can be used in the acts of terror is the destruction of “non-combatants” and we do have a right to judge on that point. We can judge the United States and the Allies for the fire-bombing of cities in Japan and Germany during World War II because of the high number of non-combatants in the area. We can judge the Nazi’s for the attempt to exterminate the Jews as well as the US use of a nuclear weapon in Hiroshima or Nagasaki (sp?). We can also judge the moral implications of the use of ‘defoliants’ such as Napalm and Agent Orange during the Vietnam war, and we can judge the use of Sarin gas in a subway, the use of biological and chemical agents by the previous Iraqi regime on its Kurdish citizens, as well as many actions of governments in Bosnia and multiple African countries.

Each of these were in a country’s or political entity’s decision matrix on how to fight a war.

Understand I am not taking a stand either for or against each act as it has it’s own unique set of circumstances that made each it’s own moral question. ie: The death count in Japan was estimated to exceed multiple times the number if a ground war would have been waged instead of use of the Nuclear weapons.

My morals are forged through my religion, my family, and as a member of the human race.
My beliefs are fundamental to my education, my experience as a member of the United States Military, and my understanding of the geopolitical forces of the world.

Though I would love to think that my Morals outweigh my Beliefs in my decision making, I am a pragmatist in understanding that it is a complicated situation that to some extent we face daily.

Now that I have finished this long response, I guess the summary is that there is a significant difference between one’s Morals and One’s Beliefs.

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