- Published: October 17, 2022
- Updated: October 17, 2022
- Level: Ph.D
- Language: English
- Downloads: 6
A consequentialist ethics is one that holds the outcome of an action as the standard of value. An action is deemed good, or morally right, when the outcome is good, and deemed bad or wrong when the outcome is bad. In the given scenario, the person in charge is faced with a dilemma and is stuck between two options that vary in their desirableness depending solely on the ethical theory one subscribes to.
In the given hypothetical dilemma, the commander has three options. The consequentialist would urge the commander to commit the action that will lead to the least suffering or loss of life. The first solution, of taking no action, will leave tribal warfare unchecked and rampant in the area. Without a reason to stop, the warlords will continue raising armies, hording needed supplies, and violating international law. The second solution, of extensive intervention, leaves open the possibility of all-out warring between Americans and Kapawa fighters, with untold devastation on civilian populations. The third solution, a middle ground, will commit a small contingent of American troops to fighting the violence. However, this third option may do nothing more than put American forces in harm’s way for a mission that may end up being too small to be of great effectiveness.
From the consequentialist point of view, the third option of engaging in limited strikes is out of the question, insofar as it does not solve the underlying problem of warlords. The problem in the case of Kapawa is institutional, not merely an armed conflict. There are deep political and ethnographic problems in the state, which cannot be resolved by a minimal engagement on the part of American soldiers. Deciding from there, the consequentialist looks at the first option: to take no action. Although this option saves the lives of American soldiers, the loss of Kapawa life and infrastructure may be far too great of a cost. If the commander leaves the Kapawa people to deal with warlords by themselves, people will continue to die from the fighting and the resulting famine. Although help can be delivered from non-governmental entities, the underlying problem remains
Logically, the second option, of full-scale intervention, makes the most sense. It eliminates the institutional and political problems affecting the Kapawa people. It gives American the opportunity to establish a stable and functioning government, and settles disputes between the warring tribes. It reestablishes the opportunity for the fair distribution of resources inside the country and ultimately saves the most Kapawa civilian life. Although there is the problem of American casualties in a full-scale intervention, this cost is outweighed by the continuance of civil warring in the Kapawa country. With superior technology and weaponry, American military forces are capable of efficiently defeating the enemy, whereas a clan warfare situation in Kapawa presents the possibility of a long, drawn-out war of attrition.
The categorical imperative of a deontological ethics may bring us to a different conclusion in the case. For instance, the imperative that it is wrong to kill another human being may be respected in the form of no intervention, in which case the commander is not authorizing the murder of other human beings and thus abiding by the categorical imperative. This represents a classical gulf between the consequentialist and deontological ethics: that of intentionality. So long as it is not the commander’s intention to take the lives of other people, the action is commendable in some fashion to the deontologist. Nevertheless, if the commander does not take action, and there are far more Kapawa civilian casualties than there would have been, the two moral doctrines disagree on whether this was appropriate. The first option of nonintervention does not discount the possibility of helping afflicted individuals, which answers the need of some in the region. The second option of extensive intervention violates the categorical imperative not to kill others, but satisfies the consequentialist’s criteria of what the ideal option would be.
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EduPony. (2022) 'Military intelligence ethicist'. 17 October.
EduPony. (2022, October 17). Military intelligence ethicist. Retrieved from https://edupony.com/military-intelligence-ethicist/
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EduPony. "Military intelligence ethicist." October 17, 2022. https://edupony.com/military-intelligence-ethicist/.
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