War and Massacre, by Thomas Nagel

872 WordsJun 22, 20184 Pages
In “War and Massacre” by Thomas Nagel, Nagel argues that there are limits on what can be done to an enemy even its for the sake of overall good. He believes that such an idea is grounded on the principles of Absolutism, where morality is determined by the action itself (deontology). This is contrary to the view of Utilitarianism, which relies on the premise that Morality is determined by its consequences (Consequentialism). Although could one in fact generate such a moral structure around war? Do the ends justify the means in War? Through identifying with a real-life example, I will look to expand on Nagel’s account where an action taken by a country in war would be prohibited even if it were for the overall good. In mid-November of last…show more content…
Nonetheless, such a position according to Nagel would be considered a prohibited act in war, even though the act was done for the overall good of the region. In his argument in his piece War and Massacre, he creates this dialectic between Utilitarianism and Kantianism (Absolutism). Nagel begins his theory with two premises. His first premise discusses the idea that war and conflict is a relation between persons and therefore the way people treat people in the context of war must be considered under a moral paradigm. His second premise follows two classes of absolutist’s restrictions; who can count as a legitimate target of attack and what counts as a legitimate manner of attack. Based on these premises, it is clear that Nagel would suggest that such an action by the IDF would under no circumstance be morally justifiable by these premises even when the stakes are high. This is simply because an absolutists view would hold that “one may not kill another person under any circumstances, no matter what good would be achieved or evil thereby” (126, War and Massacre). Therefore Nagel would still deem a militant commander

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