As Michael Slote (1984) has rightly pointed out, “ordinary moral thinking seems to involve an asymmetry regarding what an agent is permitted to do to himself and what he is permitted to do to others.” For one, agents are permitted to sacrifice their own greater good in order to secure a lesser net benefit for others, but not permitted to sacrifice someone else’s greater good in order to secure a lesser net benefit for others. For another, whereas it seems morally permissible to allow yourself to suffer unnecessarily, it seems morally impermissible to allow someone else to suffer unnecessarily. To make this a bit more concrete, consider the following illustrations. First, whereas it seems morally permissible to cut off my right arm in order to save someone else’s pinky finger, it seems morally wrong to cut off someone else’s right arm (even with his or her consent) in order to save yet another person’s pinky finger. Second, whereas it seems imprudent but not immoral of me to negligently leave thumbtacks on the ground where only I tread, it seems wrong of me to negligently leave thumbtacks on the ground where others tread.The first essay I ever read in contemporary academic philosophy. The absurd ideological refusal to consider data in any form. It took me half a paragraph until I thought of military command structure. Common sense morality is the morality of equals. Self-other asymmetry is a function of the need for community and social cohesion. The community trains, indoctrinates, builds the individual. The army is based on strict utilitarianism and on formalized social relations and taboos -no fraternization- to limit the emotional trauma that can result from sending other human beings to their death. The fact that trauma can occur demonstrates that military ethics and military esthetics are hand in glove. Or flesh in skin.
As I've said dozens of times a military in service to a republic is an authoritarian order in service to a free society. In order for it to work there has to be not only a willingness to follow civilian leadership but a respect for that leadership, a respect for something other than military utilitarianism. More than an understanding it requires an attachment.
Make it Bloody Fucking Obvious Vol. 88
"People think that Andy said he was a machine. But he didn't. He said he wanted to be a machine and that's not the same thing at all."
Callie Angell bought me the subscription to the Journal of Philosophy when she served as secretary on the board of trustees.