A Moral Military by Sidney Axinn

By Sidney Axinn

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Should we prefer to have the powerful defeat the weak? Does might make right? Yes, according to 20 / C h a p t e r 2 the democratic position. It is better to serve a large number than a small number. And, if that is better, then the sacrifice of the small number is justified. Let us consider some possible objections to this notion of what is natural. One issue is revealed in the example of the ten people on the island. Suppose ten people go off to a place called Minyan Island and plan to live according to the principle of social utility.

If we were mechanical entities without freedom, we would have no responsibility for our styles. Let’s grant that. The problems of choosing specific moral styles or moral strategies must be dealt with in terms of examples. They come in later chapters. At this stage, we should look at available alternative theories. 34 We have shown relationships and distinctions between the parts of the traditional professional military ethic and have supplied some of the philosophical background, but we have not invented a new moral code.

As a test question, we might consider this position from the viewpoint of the nation. Will someone who holds this view of the moral object sacrifice him- or herself for a political goal? If the sacrifice is to be a sacrifice of one’s life, then the benefit of the victory goes not to the individual but to others. Why should an individual sacrifice his or her life for others? That person should do so only if he or she would rather die than live with the lack of dignity that might result. If a person thinks that he or she ought to sacrifice for others, but doesn’t have the will to carry out that choice, he or she may have trouble living with the resulting lack of dignity.

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