Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Are weapons inherrently immoral?

  1. Yes.

    20 vote(s)
  2. No.

    64 vote(s)
  3. Maybe.

    4 vote(s)
  4. So?

    3 vote(s)
  1. Nov 9, 2004 #1


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Yes, its vague, but its an almost exact quote and (in my perception) a common view. My opinion (and discussion) to follow...
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 9, 2004 #2
    I would say that there is a small part of the population that is "evil". Psychopaths would be included here. And other people prepared to use violence to gain what they want. So weapons are necessary for the "good" people.
  4. Nov 9, 2004 #3
    I too cast my vote for no.

    I consistant wonder where the line is between human nature and animalistic tendancies. Are we not but animals ourselves? You could argue the soul aspect but in the end, it still doesnt make a difference. You could argue the reason and logic aspect, but that too will degrade to showing that, in some way, we all have it.

    To that extend, humans, at least the normal ones :rofl: , do not have sharp teeth, claws, ect. In the animal world, the creatures there do and they use those to maintain their control over other creates. This is "Natural Instinct".

    Through out history, mankind, another form of animal, has developed weapons. It started with stones and sticks, progressed through martial arts and non-powered weapons, and is still continuing today.

    We use those weapons to control other creates in our world.

    The use and possession of weapons is "Natural Instinct". If we didnt have them, we would simply kick, punch, and bite.

    With or without them, nothing would be any different... only the method that we would use to impose control on others.
  5. Nov 9, 2004 #4
    Well, I think weapons in the hands of a few "evil" individuals will destroy more than weapons in more than a few "good" individuals would do good...
    In todays society I can't find much good to do with weapons, but its very easy to see what weapons in "bad" hands can do.

    But then again as DaVinci said "With or without them, nothing would be any different... only the method that we would use to impose control on others."
    The world wouldn't in anyway get rid of the "evil" just because the weapons where gone.

    As regarding "natural instinct" i see that it has evolved from primitive stones to guns.
    But to me it seems it started with natural instinct, but I don't see it too natural as it is today.
  6. Nov 9, 2004 #5
    Universal morality

    Outside of society one must ask whether there really is any right or wrong in the universe to answer your question. Surely from man's perspective weapons are immoral but they are part of the tools society uses. From a religious perspective, if God is a benevolent entity then surely weapons are immoral. As to why religions write about moral wars I don't know because it seems contradictory.
  7. Nov 9, 2004 #6
    Weapons are nonmoral. The question needs rephrasing.
  8. Nov 9, 2004 #7
    yea.....its not the weapons themselves that are immoral....its the things they are used for that are......if that makes any sense. :approve: :wink: :confused:
  9. Nov 10, 2004 #8


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    "Morality" does not apply to inanimate objects. Actions are moral (or immoral). A weapon just is; it is, as BoulderHead said, non-moral. Only the human action in which it is used could be deemed moral or immoral.

    - Warren
  10. Nov 10, 2004 #9


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Or in other words, "Guns don't kill people; People kill people."
  11. Nov 10, 2004 #10
    Exactly. Now add the following:

    "Without guns, people would STILL kill people."
  12. Nov 10, 2004 #11
    Well, i saw it simply from anothe frame of refernce which will make the picture clear for me:

    You have a goal to achieve..and other opposes it...you should not use violence until they will use it [so your violence now is justified] since now weapons is known by the "wrong" side ...the right side has the right to use it..

    Will , we came now to the point when "the first weapons" invented where for which reason?

    I do not know for sure the answer, buti guess the story is similar to the story of the Nuclear weapons: Was is moral to invent is and to use it against Japan, the enemy, in WW2?

    I will not answer..cuz i am not sure..
    P.S. I vote for No
  13. Nov 10, 2004 #12
    The morality of action

    You bring up some good points but one that brings about the question if the action of creating weapons is immoral since they can be used immorally.

    During the construction of the first atomic bomb at Los Alamos the scientist asked if what they were working on was immoral. Alfred Noble who is famous for taming nitrates formed the Noble Peace Prize because of his guilt for contributing to the efficency of killing with his new invention.

    One could ask if drinking alcohol is immoral and if so is the one who is supplying the alcohol is acting immorally (such as a liquor store owner, not Jesus Christ because I am talking about excessive drinking). Doing drugs could be seen as being immoral so would be the drug dealers supplying the substances. So is creating, selling and supplying weapons immoral as well?
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2004
  14. Nov 10, 2004 #13


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Warren/Boulderhead, yes, I also consider it poorly worded/flawed - but the reason its worded that way is because its often said that way. Its an almost exact quote (a statement framed into a question) from another thread on this site.

    Part of my reason for posting it like that is I wanted someone else to say it was poorly worded/flawed first. I didn't want to steer the conversation from the beginning.

    IMO, the implications ("Guns don't kill people, people kill people") are a lot trickier than simply saying that inanimate objects can't be moral or immoral (as RAD discussed...). I'll expand tonight...
  15. Nov 12, 2004 #14
    Isn't using hurting evil people still immoral. Arguing from moral absolutes, killing people, nomatter what the circumstantances, would have to be immoral. Letting the evil people do evil may more immoral but that does not mean that using weapons to kill evil people is not immoral at all.
  16. Nov 12, 2004 #15


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    I see at the outset no particular reason why the regulation of guns should be less restrictive than say, the regulation of poisons.
    Poisons aren't evil either, and some of them have imortant usages (which guns don't have).
  17. Nov 12, 2004 #16


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    It depends on why.
    That's not the way absolutes work: absolutes are simply laws that always apply. For example, the absolute could be framed to allow self defense: ie 'killing is wrong except in cases of self defense' could be a moral absolute.

    Regarding the initial question, my personal opinion is that objects cannot be inherrently moral or immoral. However, they still must be regulated based on their utility in enabling people to do moral/immoral deeds. Simplisticly, a .50 cal machine gun has significantly greater capacity to aid a murder-spree than a 9mm handgun, and thus is deemed too dangerous for civilians to have.

    arildno's point, while not quite on topic is perfectly valid regarding gun legislation: guns have less quality/safety control requirements than most other consumer products due to their political position. That really shouldn't be.

    How about some specifics now: the question I asked was taken from a statement regarding "non-lethal" weapons. Mace, tasers, and rubber bullets fall into this category. Like a lot of things not designed to kill you, if used incorrectly, these still can - consider the Boston girl killed when a rubber bullet went through her eye during a celebration for the Boston Red Sox.

    And even if they don't kill you, they certainly hurt, though they are designed to cause no permanent damage. And if abused, you could still use them to commit crime. So the same criterea would apply - even if its a little greyer of a line.

    Another moral issue generally not considered is the use of force itself. Police officers (and military) are not allowed to shoot a person in the leg: to do so is considered immoral for two reasons: First, its cruel to injure someone permanently (as a gunshot injury may very well be). Second, if deadly force is not required, the gun shouldn't be used at all. But this brings up another problem: when is deadly force warranted/required?:

    I saw an episode of Cops last week (yeah, I know...) where a guy on crack was being tased and still drove away from cops trying to arrest him. If the non-lethal weapon fails and a criminal (or enemy soldier) is able to harm someone else, then the use of the non-lethal weapon is immoral in that situation: lethal force is required.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2004
  18. Nov 14, 2004 #17
    I believe that weapons in the context of modern society are basically immoral.

    Just because it is not practical to ban weapons in your society for fear that other's will use weapons against you does not mean that weapons are a not immoral.

    They may be a neccesary evil for some, but I still think them evil nevertheless. Which is not to say I would support any sort of attempt to get rid of them as I am one who thinks them a neccesary evil, but evil they still are.
  19. Nov 14, 2004 #18
    Well, let's say X country use Y weapon "i.e nuclear weapon" immorally once, thus if Z country want to have that Y weapon to protect itself from immoral use of X counrty..here is becomes moral..nay but even a duty...

    I can see here that there is a large chance of twisting word in descirbing the same thing, and we should be really careful. Furthermore, it depends from which "frame of reference" you see the weaopn, adn the user
    [No body freak out at me and do not branch the thread : I found it really moral if Iran has nuclear weapons! juat by the argument above..not only Iran, but every single country in thw world..the fualt is not thiers about the bad staff of atomic weapons]
  20. Nov 16, 2004 #19
    When I found out that weapons were inherently immoral recently, I was dismayed. I took out my immoral knife and scolded it.

    Bad knife. Bad! ..... You are immoral! .... Baaad! ....

    I wanted to rub its nose in its badness, but it doesn't have a nose, and I wasn't sure what to rub it in.
  21. Nov 16, 2004 #20


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Your own nose, perhaps?
  22. Nov 16, 2004 #21
    Cars kill thousands of people every year. Are they immoral and should they be banned and their makers be labeled immoral?

    People jump off or bridges and buildings and they kill people when they collapse during an earthquake or burn. Should they to be banned?

    In fact the Earth itself kills thousands every year by earthquakes, tornadoes hurricanes , landslides and cave ins etc. To be consistent we should then ban the earth and label it immoral.

    Living is the single largest cause of death known to man; so, I guess if we do away with living then no one will ever die again. Let's kill everybody on earth to do way with death. Surely that must be the epitome of morality.

    Come on people let's get real if even for only a moment and use our heads and common sense just a bit. Before bombs, gun, bows and arrows there was sticks and stones and before that there was hands, feet, teeth and nails and before that claws and fangs. Are these too immoral?
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2004
  23. Nov 16, 2004 #22


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    I think russ waters' post 16 ought to be the starting point for a serious discussion.
  24. Nov 16, 2004 #23
    Guns, and other inanimate objects cannot immoral since they are just objects (excluding profane objects, which is another discussion all together). They are merely an outlet for the immorality inherent in a law based society (I say law based because in this case I assume ‘moral’ is law abiding.) There will always be those who rebel and oppose rules be they the social norm for moral action, or laws. You cannot just blame guns and other such weapons because they are the most common outlet for immoral actions. Is hot coffee immoral (be it decaf or regular)? No, but it can be a weapon. I saw on a show about convince store surveillance systems, someone went into a store unarmed, got coffee, and proceeded to throw it in the face of the clerk and take the money from the register once it opened. A similar robbery could be accomplished in a bookstore, just substitute the hot coffee for a heavy gold-leaf bible, and I doubt anyone would argue that the bible is immoral.
  25. Nov 17, 2004 #24
    While i think that inanimate object cannot be moral or immoral I do think that the manufacture and sale of some items are obviously immoral and/or unethical. For instance to knowingly manufacture and market a know defective and dangerous item such as a car or toy is moral. Another which I think is manufacturing and selling on the open market Teflon coated bullets is unconscionable. They are made for one single purpose, to penetrate body armor and kill the one wearing it, usually a police officer.

    I can see it being made and sold to police forces and military forces as more and more criminals are wearing body armor as are more potential enemy forces and terrorist. But to sell them on the open market to whoever can pay the price for the sole purpose of killing people is immoral. I am sure there are other situations and item that the manufacture and sell of is immoral. However, again, it is the people who are immoral not the bullets or items themselves.
  26. Nov 17, 2004 #25

    Weapons (or the capability for forceful self-defense) are, and will be, necessary now and in any future scenario.

    There may come a time when all of existence reaches a mature status and no new beings come into existence. Then maybe weapons won't be necessary. I doubt this will ever come to pass.

    Last edited: Nov 17, 2004
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook