War and the Integration of Ethical Principles under the Golden Rule Essay
War and the Integration of Ethical Principles under the Golden Rule
In today’s moral climate, where the sanctity of life is unappreciated, it is fair to say that the adoption of a comprehensive ethical approach to human interaction should be based on the golden rule principle adopted by Thiroux. Many wars have been fought throughout the history of time, and the taking of human life is almost universally a part of such conflicts. The Golden Rule appears to be a catch-all principle that has the power to reduce the total amount of harm done to humanity for almost any reason that such harmful actions might be considered.
The Golden Rule seems inherently utilitarian, as it accords benefits (or the utilitarian “good”) to those whose rights are observed, as well as to those whose sense of morality is satisfied in having acted according to this rule (by observing these rights). In fact, it is arguable that all other rules and principles that are cited by Thiroux hinge upon this particular rule, which (if observed) seems to be one that has the ability to improve the quality of life of all humans on the earth.
Perhaps the most shameful of all human conflict ends in war, and such conflicts are usually based on rivalries that involve land, retribution, or perceived threats to national security. These problems stem from such vices as greed or hubris, which are in direct conflict with the principles taught by the golden rule. In living one’s life according to a rule that prevents one from performing actions that are likely to make another feel uncomfortable, several of these vices can be avoided.
Greed, for example, involves the perpetual desire for and gathering of a particular commodity regardless of the resulting availability and accessibility to others. A person who abides by the golden rule would consider tempering such desires once it appears that such a desire might impinge upon the resource’s availability to others. Not only is this kind, but it is also fair. The principle of justice offers a similar view, which seeks to give to all persons what they are due.
If individuals consider themselves as being worthy of such rights as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” then those who live by the golden rule also consider this right to belong to others. Fairness and justice would therefore grant these persons are right to their fair share of the resources available here on the earth. The justice inherent in the Golden Rule therefore demonstrates how it acts as parent to the principle of justice. This Golden Rule can be applied to the greed that is evinced when wars break out because of one country’s desire for more land space.
This has been evident in many historical events. Thousands of years ago, the Trojan War demonstrated the Greeks’ desire to take over the territory controlled by Troy; Assyrians raided Middle Eastern tribes and countries in order to gain more territory; the European settlers drove Native American’s from their lands in order to expand their own claims. The wars that resulted from these conflicts led to the death of many, and the displacement of many more.
However, the application of the Golden Rule would have led to the raiders’ placing themselves in the shoes of their victims, and they would have come to understand the unpleasant nature of the victims’ suffering. The wars and deaths could on that ground have been avoided. Here it becomes obvious that the Golden Rule also contains the essence of the Principle of Goodness. This rule states that the promotion of goodness goes hand in hand with refraining from doing harm to others.
When one places oneself in the shoes of others (according to the Golden Rule) it becomes abundantly clear whenever actions tend to do harm to others because of the discomfort one feels when considering the same action being performed upon oneself. When the reasons for which wars are fought are scrutinized, it is evident that the Principle of Goodness is being ignored, and this happens because people refrain from placing themselves in the shoes of others. The Golden Rule’s built-in principle of justice would help alleviate the problem of war.
The Value of Life principle advocated by Thiroux can also be seen as an inherent concept existing within the Golden rule, and the application of this principle to war would also help alleviate this burden. The self-centeredness often perceived in humans might be considered a natural trait, when one reflects that the life of every individual revolves inevitably around him-/herself. People consider their lives very important and worth doing almost anything to save. In other words, people generally value their own lives.
If the Golden Rule is observed, then not only would people value their own lives, but they would also value the lives of others. This Value of Life principle, shown now to be inherent in the Gold Rule is in complete opposition to the numerous wars that have been (and continue to be) fought on this planet. When people begin to observe the right of others to have life, they are in effect granting to those others a right that they deem extended to themselves. Such a right disallows fighting, malice, and killing for any reason. The Golden Rule also demonstrates its opposition to war in its observation of the Principle of Individual Freedom.
In the most literal sense, it opposes the regular practice of war that involves taking prisoners or even enslaving others. Capturing persons against their will directly impinges upon their freedom, as it restricts their movement and their performance of everyday actions such as bathing, eating, sleeping and conversing. If a person inclined to wage war operates by the Golden Rule, he or she will be inclined to refrain from capture, as he/she would not like to be captured in return. In addition to this literal aspect, war also impinges upon individual freedoms to live in the way they prefer.
Living in a war zone restricts both movement and thought. Such persons are constantly worried about whether or not they might be caught in the violence that surrounds them. This constant war imposed upon them forces them to constantly think of troubling things rather than on the pleasant or interesting thoughts that they would most prefer to have in mind, such as family, friends, aesthetics or love. These restrictions imposed by war encroach upon Individual Freedom, and are created by persons who do not consider these privileges (granted to them) as rights that should also be extended to other.
Of course, war is a complex matter, and it is often the case that the persons who end up performing many of the unsavoury acts are those who are fighting against a previous (or current) threat/invasion. In this case, however, it can still be seen that the initial conflict is caused by those who neglect the principles of the Golden Rule. While at times people are actually forced into murderous or warlike actions that appear to conflict the Golden Rule, careful analysis will usually demonstrate that some disregard of the well-being of others lies at the root of these age-old conflicts.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 20 February 2017
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