1. Not finding help here? Sign up for a free 30min tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Honest assassins

  1. Sep 9, 2004 #1
    There's a lot of killing going on in the world. Nations have been turned into mere business ventures. Holy warriors ignore their own bibles and kill people by the hundreds.

    When a politician says it's for peace, we know it's crap. Bombs and bullets don't create peace. If they did, the wars would have ended centuries ago, at least. We've seen that it's all about investments. But then, it has been for a long time. The Doge in Venice made a killing by organising an entire war (which never happened).

    When religious nutters kill people, they are often ignoring parts of their scripture. They form convoluted excuses to justify their actions.

    Whatever the particulars of their reasons or justifications, it eventually boils down to one thing: they seek to gratify themselves, their own desires, at the expense of others.

    State-controlled armies? Fighting for a nation, if not fighting in defence, is as loaded with bollocks justifications as the crusades of religious nutters. The young chaps in armies believe what they are told by their commanders and their government. They often have weird ideas involving patriotism and being "the good guys". The reasons, again, are rather lame.

    But what about assassins? Mercenaries? They do not delude themselves. They do not lie about their reasons. They ask for money, and they kill people.

    What say you? Is killing for money more honest than killing for a cause?

    I'd planned to write more on this subject, but I'm a tad busy tonight.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 9, 2004 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    A fair answer would require you first to define what you mean by honest.

    As I understand honesty, it can't be taken as an absolute concept, but must be measured with respect to the knowledge and intentions of the person in question. For instance, if I believe that some proposition P is true, then I am being honest when I tell others that P is true, even if it turns out upon further investigation that P is false.

    Therefore, so long as one truly believes in a cause, one is no less honest in killing for that cause than another is for killing for money. Both are honest insofar as both believe that they are acting towards a certain end. Whether they are in fact acting towards that end or not is another matter, not so much of their honesty as of the veridicality of their beliefs.
  4. Sep 9, 2004 #3
    Honesty: not lying. Not to others, not to yourself. Perhaps also not omitting truths?
  5. Sep 9, 2004 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    What is it to lie? If I believe P is true when in fact it is false, and I tell you that P is true, am I lying?

    I think the notion of lying, like honesty, attains meaning only in virtue of the knowledge and intentions of the person in question. If Bob believes the earth is flat, then he is certainly wrong, but I wouldn't consider him to be lying if he told others the earth was flat. In fact, if Bob told others that the earth is round, in view of his belief that it is flat, he would be lying even though his claim in this case is true.
  6. Sep 9, 2004 #5
    Well if you're looking for justification of killing there is nothing that can justify taking lives.
  7. Sep 9, 2004 #6
    No, I'm not looking for that. That's for another thread.
  8. Oct 17, 2004 #7
    Yes in that case he would be honest. But what if there is a fact "W" that also proves that "P" is false that you are aware of and know but DELIBERATLY ignore. Then you are not acting on what you think is truth, you are acting on what you WANT TO BELIEVE is truth. That would make you false.

    As most people who approve of war have penlty of access to information that would show that perphas their justification for war is wrong, yet collectiviely and catogoractly REFUSE to admit said information beacuse they will ONLY admit information that agrees with their own world view preemptively, then they are being DISHONEST, for they can not say "we KNOW everything there is to know about "x" war and conclude it is " justified.

    It would be like a scientist saying that the universe is static based on papers that ONLY agree with the scientist views, all the while he knows of other articles that disagree with but he FLATLY ignores them, .... he is being dishonest.

    I answer.
    In a real and practical sense, Merc's are honest and then kid themself into thinking anything that their doning has any connotations of justifiablity.
  9. Oct 19, 2004 #8
    wars should be fought with assassins instead of soldiers... usually it's the governments making the decisions, so i definitely think that would be more fair...
  10. Dec 2, 2004 #9
    Assassins kill for money, and soliders kill for a false cause. I would say assassins are immoral, but intelligent, while soliders are strictly confused.
  11. Dec 2, 2004 #10


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Well, to begin with, I don't think you can say that no intervention has ever achieved peace. We may have never achieved permanent peace, but I don't think anyone conducting a war has even been naive enough to believe that he could. The aim is to put an end to the specific conflict that is being intevened in. For instance, French intervention in the American revolution shortened the fighting. American intervention in WWI shortened the fighting.

    In the latter of these cases, the US intevened because of alliances it has formed, the alliance with France in particular largely due to the French support of the American revolution and of the Union during the Civil War. In this case, you can say a large part of the reason the French intervened in those wars was to make an investment, but it was not a monetary investment. They were protecting themselves for the future, building an alliance with a nation that they felt held not only valuable resources but similar ideals. In this case, I don't see any problem with making such an investment, when in fact it did lead to another shortened war later in time (WWI).

    If you want to vilify someone, vilify the profiteers that sell weapons to both sides, not the soldiers. Also, don't make the mistake of thinking that just because you are cynical about wars currently taking place that no noble or at least justifiable military action ordered by a politician has ever taken place.

    Anyway, to answer your question, I don't think assassins are any more moral than the common foot soldier. If you take a utilitarian stance of morality, then both are equally bad. But if you take a stance that accounts for motivation, then surely the foot soldier who battles for patriotism (deluded or not) is fighting out of a purer heart than the man who simply kills for the highest bider.
  12. Jan 21, 2005 #11
    Anyway, to answer your question, I don't think assassins are any more moral than the common foot soldier. If you take a utilitarian stance of morality, then both are equally bad. But if you take a stance that accounts for motivation, then surely the foot soldier who battles for patriotism (deluded or not) is fighting out of a purer heart than the man who simply kills for the highest bider.

    I have to agree here. You have to remeber also that the common soldier is not necessarily privy to everything his superiors are. Therefore I don't think you can blame them or call them morally bankrupt for what they do. If anything I would even go so far as to say that some assassins (the ones that are in the military of a country exampe CIA operatives, snipers) probably do what they do out of patriotism. Now mercs and other hired guns are another story. I think they're morally bankrupt becasue they have no cause and believe in nothing more than profit.
  13. Jan 21, 2005 #12
    To reply to the whole idea I must say that it is absoluty nessesary for any free govnerment to have a standing army or they will not be free for long. Please, ask yourself if the Allied soldiers who died in WWII were confused, lied to individuals. They were not defending a lie and meangless cause, they were defening freedom and the basic humans rights of others in the world. Those pacifists who say it is immoral to kill no matter what, picture this. Someone has broken into your house and is pointing a gun at your wife and three year old child. You have a gun and can shoot him. He will be dead and you will have killed him. If you do not shoot him he shoots your wife, your child and you. Which is more immoral then, to kill him or not? Sometimes wars need to be fought to defend and protect, nor do I think any one soldier thinks they will forever ablolish war.

    Adam, what weird ideas of patriotism are you talking about. If another nation is invaded yours with the intent to end your way of life, your culture and everything you have would say that it would be wrong to stop it. Countries are founded on moral ideas and human rights. The only duty of the government is to protect its citizens. If everyone would take your line of reasoning and throw off all allegiance to their country soon the entire world would be ruled by dictators.

    Looseyourname, I completly argee with you and I thank you greatly for having the common sense to both see and state the truth.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Honest assassins
  1. Kennedy Assassination (Replies: 7)

  2. JFK assassination (Replies: 14)

  3. How honest can you be? (Replies: 21)