I just returned from a presentation given by a man who works for the US Army in developing better ordinance. The primary reason for my visit was to ask him about his ethical justifications on doing research to further the cause of war. His primary reasons were:
1) For the people in uniform, so that they can come back home.
2) A human in a democracy follows the will of that democracy even if he disagrees with the democracies stances, and attempts to make political change if he does disagree with those stances, but still supports all political decisions.
I can't accept these as good ethical reasons, but I'm glad he answered without hesitation, and he acknowledged that it was actually a difficult quandary -- so he was aware that there was a gray boundary.
As I interpret his ethical justification the reason is "Patriotism!" which fits well with the zeitgeist of our times, but I fail to see that as a good ethical argument for just about anything. If all actions that are patriotic are justifiable so long as they're vindicated by some form of democratic unity, then the south was right to own slaves. I find any justification on the weapons industry hard to justify because you're dealing with something that's pretty fundamental, ethically -- you're furthering man's ability to kill people. And if the 20th century tells us anything, furthering that ability doesn't really deter use. It just makes as that much better at killing people, exactly as the research intended.
Plus there's this whole side to it that makes me think that they're taking the easy way out: It's friggen' easy to destroy things. It's much, much harder to actually produce something useful or interesting.
I think I'm going to be a curmudgeon when I grow up. *grumble, grumble, grumble...*
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