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This isn’t about ethics. Countries are not people, they only act in their own interest with exactly zero regard for anything else. Russia attacked Ukraine because it was the least bad option for them (Ukraine joining NATO would be very bad for them), and the US imposes sanctions because it is also the best possible move, and now they can do it without facing backlash. And that includes propaganda if necessary, on both sides.
The point I’m trying to defend is that manipulating the public’s opinion is part of the global dynamic, and everyone should be aware of, and oppose it, to get what THEY want, rather than what the large-scale political chaos imposes on them. You seem to agree on that, so that’s great, I don’t see the need for further debate.
“Countries are not people” say that again, but slowly
Heck, I’m not strong in English… Okay, what about “a country is not a person”?
Feel better yes but even then I would need to argue that a country is made up of people tho administer it. Either the whole of the demo, or the dictator-like government executives.
Maybe. But my point was that
So the legal dynamics between countries are very different from those between people.
It is for some of us.
and acting in that way is unethical, and therefore villainous, and therefore worthy of villification.
Are you confused about why people villify things they view as villainous?
Okay but one of these things is murder.
Also, no, Russia’s attack on Ukraine was not the best possible move, Russia’s economy is pretty fucked going forward. It might have been the best rule for Putin, idk what internal Russian politics is about.
I didn’t say “I am totally neutral on Russia” or “propaganda is good,” though. Russia is just doing really, really bad things for which it should be criticized.
I’ll clarify then. You’re assuming individual ethics apply to large groups of people, which disregards the reason why those ethics exist in the first place. They exist at the individual level as an “acceptable” set of behaviors to discourage behaviors outside it. There are two important differences between individuals and countries:
For these two reasons, ethics do not make sense at an international scale. I’ll illustrate with an example:
There are 5 people. 4 of them make an agreement to beat up the 5th. This person learns of the plot against them and decides to attack each of the others separately, one by one, by just waiting outside their homes.
In this case, the 5th person should have simply called the police. What they did was unacceptable, since they attacked first, thus escalating the conflict.
However, at an international scale, things change dramatically. There is no police, so there’s just country #5, presented with a choice: either do nothing and get beaten up, or attack first. Did they act right or wrong? Well, it doesn’t matter, since there’s no way to change the result. The country will always choose the second option, and, furthermore, the other 4 countries will know damn well what #5 will do. In fact, they will not plot against it unless they think they are going to win in every scenario.
Now, imagine this happens, and country #5 has already attacked country #4. Now, the remaining 3 would be able to beat up #5. But let’s say #2 and #3 decide to side with #5 and beat #1; maybe in that situation they would suffer less losses, get better profits, etc. But in this case it’s in the best interest of #1 to oppose #5, and thus to keep #2 and #3 on its side, so it decides to convince the people on those two countries to hate on #5. Now they can’t side with it, since they would face backlash, so they need to co-operate with #1.
While a purely ethical analysis only concludes that ‘#5 attacked #4’ (which doesn’t provide any useful course of action), the more useful benefit analysis affords that #1 has managed to obtain the highest benefit, by manipulating #2 and #3 and capitalizing on conflict between #4 and #5. The useful course of action would have been for #2 and #3 to side with #5.
Hang on, what makes you say I’m assuming? I’ve spent plenty of time studying ethics. I believe firmly that ethics apply to both organizations and the people who run those organizations.
And I don’t beleive that ethics exist for any reason at all, I think of them as fundamental reality of the universe. You might disagree, but it’s a pretty odd position to argue that ethics only exit to discourage particular behaviors. Maybe you’re thinking of laws, are you thinking of laws? Whatever, let’s go with your weird take anyway.
… so we should stop discouraging groups of people to do harm? We should just tell large groups of people they can do all the harm they want, no sweat?
This is descriptive, not prescriptive. And it’s not even descriptive ethics – descriptive ethics describe what people believe is ethical, you’re just describing what tends to happen. When we talk about whether something is villainous or not, we’re not talking about whether it happens or not, we’re talking about whether or not it should happen. We don’t say that Iago is not a villain because he acts in the way that he feels like acting, that’s not what villainy is about, that’s not what ethics is about, that’s totally irrelevant.
… or because the people making decisions have some belief in right and wrong. That’s perfectly possible.
Why not? You haven’t explained any reason why they don’t.
Also – why can’t we judge the people in those countries who make unethical decisions? Why can’t we judge Putin? A very large portion of the vitriol directed as Russia is very explicitly directed at Putin, personally.
Oh, so I was right, you’re confusing the word “ethics” with the word “law.” I’m not saying “Russia is a criminal,” I’m saying “russia is evil,” ther’es a big difference.
All you’ve done is explain why international ethics and international law might be different in some cases from individual ethics. You still haven’t given us any reason to just do away with the concept entirely.
Yeah, we’ve all studied ethics. Ethics (no matter if you believe it’s inherent to reality or a useful construct) acts in two scenarios:
Ethics doesn’t state that “you should punish others when they act contrarily to ethics”. That’s law. And the reason it punishes people is because that discourages them from acting in that way again. Free will, if you wish.
Now, at the international scale there are no real laws. Implementation of laws depends on the ability of individual countries to enforce them, for their own interests. If we could create laws that affected every country, then yes, we could simply model these laws after ethics. But we can’t.
So, in the example I gave you, suppose you are a citizen of country #2. I already stated that the best course of action for your country would be to side with country #5. But then, since you believe you should punish that country because it acted unethically, you will push your government to side with #1 instead. You tried to enforce laws that didn’t exist, and now you’ve acted against your best interests.
The mistake here is that ethics doesn’t deal with punishment. Punishment is specified by laws, seeking the best interest of society. But the best course of action here was not to punish, yet your instinct led you the wrong way.
Yeah, I somehow doubt you’ve studied ethics, I’ve never heard any ethicist argue that ethics “acts” at all.
Ethics doesn’t make anybody do anything. Ethics allows us to study how we should behave and make better decisions.
Most legal scholars feel that we cannot or should not merely legislate ethics, but that law comes from another source – such as the will of the people in a democracy, the non-aggression principle, the social will according to Rousseau, fair principles selected from behind the veil of ignorance, the Leviathan according to Hobbes, principles agreed to by some land-owning collective, enforcement and protection of human rights, divine rule, national sovereignty, etc. And then there are obviously anarchists who believe in law, but not in ethics at all. Paternalism is a complex topic of debate. But it’s quite rare to meet a legal scholar who actually thinks that we should just legislate morality like that.
Well, some ethicists do. It’s funny, people who study ethics usually know that.
Kant was a fun example. He thought that the proper punishment for violating a an application of the categorical imperative was to be treated as though you do not believe in that application – IE, if you killed somebody, you should be killed – but also argued that it would be impermissible, categorically, to carry out such a punishment.
That’s one of a few common justifications for punishment.
Short list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punishment#Possible_reasons_for_punishment
Right, international law is mostly an unenforceable facade.
Oh man, I just read the rest of your hypothetical, it’s even worse than I thought. You not only argued that international ethics might be kind of different than interpersonal ethics, or that ethics can’t exist at the international scale, or anything like that, you argued that ethics are bad because they’re not Egoism (which is an ethical theory, and legit the worst one).
The best course of action for all nations is to do the right thing, and not the selfish thing, as is the case for all humans. This is not a question of law, this is a question of ethics, and your attempt to apply egoism as the necessary ethical theory and frame it as rejecting ethics entirely is insane.
I will always push my government to do the right thing, even if it costs us money or causes us inconvenience. Pushing your government to do the selfish thing is selfishness, and evil.
I’m not talking about punishment. I don’t want to punish Russia. I want to sanction Russia to end the war and save the lives of innocent Ukranians and protect the integrity of their borders and send a message to the world that unjustified invasions will not be tolerated.
Hi, sorry for not responding earlier. You seem to be very knowledgeable. I was trained in ethics as part of my medical training, so the extent of my knowledge may not be as great as yours. Anyway, these are the specific pieces of knowledge I was invoking:
So, my point is that this specific situation must not be resolved by you stated means since: