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Are the moraly right the victors of war?

  1. Jul 5, 2004 #1
    it seems to me that the ones who win the wars turn out to be the moraly right

    i remember talking about archers in history class in that they were vary effective in battle but they were a 'lesser' way to win the battle beause they required little skill to best a knight. sure enough, we dont care who has the skill and we dont care much about honor in war as long as it dosent violate any human rights conventions

    there is a saying about world war 2, "if they won the war, we would all be speaking german". i think this also extends to (or maybe just refers to) the mentality that nazis would have been in the right if they won.

    it makes sense that any system of morals that can beat out the last guys will be considered the right way to do things after a generation or 2

    what do u guys think?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 6, 2004 #2


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    I don't think that old adage was meant to imply that the Germans would automatically be morally right. There is another adage that the winners write the history books. In that sense, someone can manipulate (or lie) about the history to make it seem like their side was morally right, but that doesn't make it morally right.

    In fact, if one has to lie to make their side appear "better," thats pretty clear evidence that they aren't.
  4. Jul 6, 2004 #3
    I would tend to agree with russ_waters and would even venture so far as to say that the victors of war tend, more often than not, to be in the morally 'right' position (and win the war because of it). "Evil may win battles, but good wins wars."

    I argue in favor of this position by considering Von Clausewitz' arguments about the relation between total war and the strength of the combatants' will. More often than not, the defendant bears its very existence into war, and thereby is more strongly willed than the agressor. The defendant emerges the victor eventually through guerilla tactics and/or dogged persistence that outdoes any of military/political/monetary advantages the agressor may have gained by pursuing its objectives with the same tenacity.

    Case-in-point: the American resolve has been considerable weakened by the death of some few hundred soldiers in Iraq. Yet by comparison, in WWII the Americans lost hundreds of thousands of young men and women whilst their resolve to continue the fight was only strengthened. I am not making a judgement on the Iraq 'phoney-war' (thats a whole other can of worms - and besides, it can hardly be called a war, it is more like a skirmish or brief foray), but I will say that if the situation was reversed, the will of the American people to suffer and even die for their nation's continued existence would be much stronger.
  5. Jul 6, 2004 #4
    morality has nothing to do with determining right or wrong in war.

    case in point: if there is no one to say you are wrong because you killed them, you could be considered morally right by lack of opposition.

    war doesn't decide who is right or wrong, just who is left.
  6. Jul 6, 2004 #5

    you have to remember that morality is subjective - even down to the individual - and is not the generalization common among Western Ego born in the European medevial age.

    In Hitler's mind, he thought his actions were moral. And in his mind, he was right.

    It is subjective.
  7. Jul 6, 2004 #6
    Don't be so stupid. If Hitler really thought he was 'morally right', then why did he go through such lengths to hide the Holocaust? Was it just for a bit of German fun?

    Your sorry mixture of historical revisionism and moral relativism is complete hogwash.
  8. Jul 6, 2004 #7
    By the same token, when a tree falls in the forest and noone is around to see it, it doesn't make a sound. Ergo, physics is just a bunch of "Western Ego born in the European medevial age" so we don't have to accept it or the laws it imposes. What a tidy affair.

    If I kill you, and nobody catches me, am I 'morally right'? That would be convenient.
  9. Jul 6, 2004 #8


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    To be fair, the tree falling thing depends entirely on how you define sound. If the waves themselves constitute sound, then the tree makes a sound. But if sound is the perception of the waves by an intelligent being, then it doesn't make a sound. I guess that's off-topic, though.

    A better analogy would be to just use some obvious truth. If I insist that my hand is made of plastic, and even if I honestly believe my hand to be made of plastic, I'm wrong whether or not anyone argues with me.
  10. Jul 6, 2004 #9
    dschouten, welcome to slave morality!

    Morality is SUBJECTIVE.

    Hitler did think he was right, he hid the holocaust because others thought it was immoral. SUBJECTIVE. Do I think he was right? No, but guess what? You cant kill 6 million Jews by yourself.

    You obviously have no clue as to what moral concepts are. They are not perminant, and change constantly. There is no such thing as a universal morality because it is a generalization of life as a whole.

    You created your morality, and now it limits you - enjoy your self served slavery.
  11. Jul 6, 2004 #10


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    You don't think Hitler was right to kill Jews? Does that not mean you would not kill a Jew simply because he was a Jew? Well jeez, welcome to slavery. That's one less possibility for your life.
  12. Jul 6, 2004 #11


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    you make a good point, but let's tone down the self-righteousness here :biggrin:
    new ideas/thoughts are better accepted when coated in honey.

    i absolutely see your point-hitler did believe he was "right", thus "moral" in his own perspective. as the question of this topic is posed, "are the morally right the victors of war?", we would have to answer a big fat NO because Hitler did not win WWII, despite how many innocent people lost their lives.
  13. Jul 6, 2004 #12
    for the points in this topic lets say that the moraly right or wrong is desided by the most people in the world. and also lets assume that if a person dosn't care, that they do not disagree with it.

    so durring ww2 for example, most germans did not know the full extent of the genocide but many suspected and did not find it objectionable. if the nazis won the war do you think that those people would look back in retrospect and change their minds about right and wrong? would a world under nazi rule think it right or wrong?

    note that history isn't the main subject of this topic (i for one generaly have a lack of knowledge in history). its just a good example i think i can refer to and know that everyone is basicly on the same page
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 6, 2004
  14. Jul 6, 2004 #13

    sorry, i missnamed my topic. what i ment to ask is if the victors of war are the moraly right.

    i think we can all agree on that point though
  15. Jul 6, 2004 #14
    when i say moraly right im refering to the shared opinion of the most amount of people
  16. Jul 6, 2004 #15
    Yeah, I saw you had answered my question right after I posted, so I deleted the question.

    In that case I would say in the long run the majority view is likely to prevail.

    To which I'd add that winning the minds of others is part of the struggle, a struggle that philosophy plays a role in.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 6, 2004
  17. Jul 7, 2004 #16


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    If we take WWII as an example, Hitler was able to quickly conquer a large number of people, but these people did not agree with their captors and most continued to oppose him until ultimately Hitler was overthrown. Also, many countries not yet conquered by Hitler opposed him. So, even though he was the victor, the shared opinion of the majority (according to your definition) would make the victor Germany/Hitler morally wrong.

    If Hitler would have stopped before invading Russia, Germany would have held most of Europe and parts of N Africa.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2004
  18. Jul 7, 2004 #17


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    You're talking about moral relativism. Its discussed in several other threads and it is, quite simply, wrong. What someone believes to be moral and immoral is largely irrelevant to the question of whether certain actions actually are or are not immoral. Morality is as absolute as the laws of physics, though just as difficult to figure out. But to put it simply, what is morally right is what works. Murder, for example, cannot be morally right because if it were and everyone were to do it, it would cause society to break down. That idea of morality doesn't work and is therefore flawed.

    If taken to its logical conclusion, moral relativism means anarchy: no one is able to impose any morality on anyone else and therefore no one can enforce any laws against anyone else.
    I'm sure there is much debate on that point in psychology circles where they discuss the depth of his mental illness. The veracity of his beliefs is not really all that relevant to this discussion for that reason.
  19. Jul 7, 2004 #18


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    Wow! Russ were did you get this wild idea! Morality is cultural, each culture has its own morality, there have been many cultures in the history of man most of which you would have been horrified at what was considered moral.
    Frankly, our view of murder is pretty recent. As little as 150 yrs ago in this country a Southern Gentleman could terminate the life of one of his slaves and it would not have been considered murder, no one would have raised an eyebrow or even thought to suggest that murder had been committed. Morality is more defined by the subconscious of the culture then "what works".
    There is a significant difference between morality and the legal system, we can impose laws but morality is an entirely separate issue. It is the rare human who will declare THEMSELVES immoral. Irregardless of despicable deeds each human has the ability to rationalize actions so as to believe themself to be moral. That is how ephemeral morality is. As for morality being absolute that is simply ludicrous.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2004
  20. Jul 7, 2004 #19
    What is wrong is the Genetic Fallacy…
    There may be societal, even evolutionary, reasons explaining why people may view murder as wrong, but being able to explain the how and why for holding a view does not demonstrate the untrue-ness of an opposing view.
    Although this may seem a bit odd; I am unconvinced there is necessarily a reason to assume everyone would commit murder even if murder were in fact morally ok, therefore, claiming ‘that idea of morality doesn’t work…’ seems dubious.
  21. Jul 7, 2004 #20


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    And there is a reason why they are no longer around today. Like I said, just because something is "considered" (believed) by some to be moral does not make it moral any more than geistkiel's insistence that light obeys Galilean relativity makes it so.

    Morality, just like scientific knowledge is converging into its fundamental laws the more we study it.
    More evidence that our understanding of morality is evolving/coalescing into its universal laws.
    Murder isn't a moral issue?
    Quite frankly, its only ludicrous because you haven't thought moral relativism through to its logical ends. I'm not saying that to be condescending, its just that very few people ever do. Most people take the morality given to them by their parents and accept it (or don't) with little thought. Religion helps - it says in the Ten Commandments that murder is wrong. So it is.... right? Or isn't it? No one ever stops to ask why?

    I had a series of seminars on this in college and a good 3/4 of the people started with your opinion. After several weeks of case studies and examples on why moral relativism leads inevitably and invariably to anarchy, virtually everyone eventually concluded that moral relativism is a flawed basis for defining morality. Boiling it down though, think about this:

    On what basis can you impose your version of morality on someone else if everyone's own personal view is equally valid?
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2004
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