Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Schoolwork: Help Desired! (Non-Lethal Weapons Paper)
Yeah, it's popular-type dubstep, but it's one of the things I scrounged out of my pop binge after a webcomics run. It's a pretty good one, despite its mild overuse.

Hey there! I could use some help. As you may have noticed from the post about the Ethics in Apocalypse Now, I'm taking a class on Military Ethics this month. So I've got this assignment, this Policy Essay I've got to write. So I wrote it, and turned it in, cuz it was the day to turn in the first drafts.

Yeah, first drafts. You can probably see where I'm going with this now.

Let's describe the essay's little components. Heck, here's my prompt material (thanks prof!), broken up so you can see the important bits. One of the prompts is about Non-Lethal Weapons specifically, which is my chosen topic.

"Write a 2500 – 3000 word paper on one of the below topics...
...While it is necessary that you spend some time laying out the problem and engaging the philosopher/text, it is crucial that you also present your view (with supporting arguments), consider counter-arguments to your view and defend your position in light of these counter-arguments....

...YOU MUST HAVE AT LEAST ONE OUTSIDE, SCHOLARLY SOURCE FOR THIS PAPER! An outside source is defined as one that was not assigned as a reading for the course. [Encyclopedia articles OF ANY KIND(yes, I mean Wikipedia) are excluded.] You will need to have proper documentation for your sources, which will mean a citation within the paper, as well as a Bibliography.
HOWEVER, Please note that this is not a research paper.  Any outside sources that you use (regardless in which Step they appear), should only help you make your argument, not be the argument.  Clearly outside sources can be very helpful in Step 1, especially analysis and Step 3, to help flesh out objections to your view....

...15 – Non-Lethal Weapons:  Some scholars view non-lethal weapons as a way to make war more humane by limiting the damage and harm inflicted on both combatants and non-combatants, as well as property and the environment.  Other scholars are concerned that such weapons represent an erosion of the moral limitations on war and/or the blurring of the lines between war and other kinds of activity (policing, peace keeping etc.)  What is your view of the ethical acceptability of implications of the use of non-lethal weaponry in warfare?  How might the use of such weapons impact the jus in bello aspects of the Just War Tradition? What are the implication of non-lethal weapons for thinking about the moral questions and concerns associated with warfare?"
Those are the components of the essay that I was given to work with. The prompts in the Non-Lethal Weapons section are idea prompts, suggestions of things to write about, not a list of bullets to hit or questions to answer.
For your general reference, throughout the class we have read:
Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics
Immanuel Kant's Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals
John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism
Brian Orend's On War
Helen Frowe's The Ethics of War And Peace well as a number of smaller texts, such as Plato's Laches and Epictetus's The Enchiridion. This is just so you have some context of what I've already read and am primarily drawing my knowledge from, as this draft is NOT properly cited. Credit where credit is due.

Without further ado, here's the essay:
Max / Ego
PHIL224 – Policy Essay
Word Count: 2982
      [Intro here] Ultimately, with a few qualifications, the use of non-lethal weapons in war is morally justified.
     Non-lethal weapons are a relatively new force in the modern world. Prior to the Twentieth Century, the vast majority of weapons were intended to do a single action: kill their target. Clubs and stones bludgeoned their targets to death with blunt strikes. Swords and spears and axes sliced lethal gashes or created deadly puncture wounds. Firearms tore through skin and flesh, with early guns leaving huge gaping holes in people and later ones leaving smaller holes that were no less lethal. If your first attack did not kill them, you struck again to make sure. Sometimes wounded combatants were captured, but this was the exception the the norm. However, with the advance of technology, a new variety of weapon has arisen, the non-lethal weapon. Rather than death, non-lethal weapons have as incapacitation as their primary goal.
     Early non-lethal weapons were quite simple and direct in their use. One early example has been in use for many years, before the general rise of non-lethal weapons: the water cannon, which blasted a high-pressure spray of water to repel crowds. They were useful and easy because they were already likely to be found near their targets – high-pressure hoses are used in fire-fighting, making them useful during riots both against angry mobs and against the fires that accompany riots. Later spray agents that have become common are tear (CS) gas and pepper spray, useful for their pain-causing but usually non-lethal abilities. Another non-lethal weapon that has become very wide-spread is the Taser (and its related brethren, as Taser is technically just a brand name), a close-combat device used to direct an electric shock at the target. These, however, all seem to be peace-keeping weapons. They are primarily used by the police and for peace-keeping military troops, rather than for general military application. However, a few non-lethal weapons have become standard, especially in specific circumstances. Military riot-control operations use many of the police weapons, and there are a fairly large selection of non-lethal ammunition types that are used, such as rubber bullets and beanbag rounds. Hostage situations are handled with the assistance of gas-type weapons, particularly tear gas, though its use is declining due to side-effects. One the less-controversial (though not completely without controversy) military-use non-lethal weapons is the stun grenade, or the flashbang, which is able to temporarily remove vision, hearing, and balance from those exposed. It is used to great effect as a breaching agent, catching the target by surprise and removing their ability to react.
     These are the current and standard non-lethal weapons, however. There exist a number of special and new devices, some of which are new approaches to existing technologies and some of which are entirely new concepts. An old idea that has been explored in recent years is Skunk and other malodorants, a form of spray that causes a horrible scent that deters its targets. One of its best benefits is that it is entirely organic and can even be consumed harmlessly (though it would certainly not be pleasant to try). Brand new technologies being used include sonic/acoustic weapons (which use projected soundwaves of varying frequencies to deter or scare targets out of a target region), laser weapons (intended to temporarily blind) and microwave weapons (which induce the sensation of being on fire without causing permanent damage).
     Non-lethal weapons, despite the name, are not always completely non-lethal. Improper application of a non-lethal weapon, whether by incompetence or by circumstances beyond control, can still result in death. One case of the former would be SWAT officer Fred Thornton, who was killed when he accidentally set off his own stun grenade while secure his equipment (The Agitator). A case of the latter might be the case of Ruben Salazar, who was killed by being hit in the head by a tear-gas canister – the canister itself, not as a side-effect of the gas – and the firing officer was deemed to not have been ultimately at fault (NNDB).
     Different schools of thought would approach the use of non-lethal weaponry differently. Those of the realist philosophy would likely not stand behind it, for example. The realists believe that morality and war are entirely unrelated, and that actions should be taken to complete the war as quickly as possible with as little damage as possible, using whatever tactics are considered necessary. I imagine that it is without debate that realists would agree to the use of non-lethal weapons alongside standard armaments – just another tool to be used in the right situation. The realists would not agree to exclusively using non-lethal weaponry though, as it would be based primarily on a moral argument. Realists might agree to the use of non-lethal weapons first when there is no clear tactical difference between the two, however. To a realist, having an incapacitated target would mean more options; if death was really the best choice, morality has no stake for them and they would follow through, but they would have other choices (ransom, prisoner exchange, interrogation, etc) that a lethal approach would not provide.
     The pacifists are a strange case when it comes to non-lethal weaponry. In the end, pacifists would likely still disagree with a war fought with non-lethal weapons. If the war involves a side using them alongside lethal weapons, their position would be a clear dislike with the situation, for all the same reasons as they would normally use. Even if both sides were to use exclusively non-lethal weapons, they would still disagree. They would likely acknowledge the strategy's superiority over the use of non-lethal weapons, but would still not consider it justified. It would still be an act of violence, with the intention to do harm to another, even if it is only temporary. They would believe that the choice of non-lethal weapons over lethal ones is a moral choice, but the choice to apply any weapon at all on the scale of warfare would not be moral.
     Immanuel Kant espoused a moral philosophy based upon the universality of morality. To Kant, an action is moral if it that action would always be considered moral regardless of context, or if they (the action) are pursued for themselves in and of themselves (and not as a means to an end). By my understanding of Kant, he would support the use of non-lethal weapons, regardless of whether they are used exclusively or not. The use of a true non-lethal weapon can be applied in nearly every situation that it would be used in, as its effects would leave after a given amount of time and the target could resume whatever they were doing. If the technique is universally applicable (although it is not always ideal), it can be considered moral. However, a complication arises in that Kant highly prizes autonomy, the ability to make our own choices. For at least a temporary span, use of a non-lethal weapon removes autonomy. However, in the situations where it would be used, the alternative (lethal force) permanently removes one's autonomy (as you cannot make choices in death), while non-lethal tactics only remove it temporarily, making it superior. It is possible that Kant would consider even the temporary removal of autonomy to color the entire idea of non-lethal weaponry as immoral, but I don't believe he would. (Groundwork)
     A final philosophy I will bring up is utilitarianism, specifically according to John Stuart Mill. Utilitarianism argues that the moral action is that which will bring the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest number of people, or in other words promote the greatest general happiness. Non-lethal weaponry allows for many people's lives to go on when previously they would have died, and I would argue that even an inconvenienced life produces more happiness than a dead person does. Especially if a true non-lethal weapon is developed and utilized that will allow a return to life exactly as before, non-lethal weaponry would be something Mill would absolutely agree with.
     I think that the use of non-lethal weaponry is a completely moral strategy in war based upon the scale of deaths it prevents as long as a few qualifications are met first in order to remove a few key counter-arguments from the picture. Several of these counter arguments are in my opinion very poor arguments to stand the test of time, applying only in the short term.
     The first obstacle that will fall away over time is the lack of a definition of non-lethal weapons. As of now, it is still somewhat foggy why precisely constitutes a non-lethal weapon and where along the spectrum of force one should draw the line. This is a valid concern in the short term, as it prevents any sort of law from accurately regulating its use. However, time will give way to a definition of non-lethal weapons. I suspect it will involve sectioning off non-lethal weapons into multiple varieties, each with their own definition, but whatever the eventual result is, a definition is only a matter of time and debate.
     The same applies to the next concern: a lack of laws regulating the use of non-lethal weaponry. Time and debate will produce laws of the same caliber, or greater, than the ones we currently use to govern lethal international conflict. After the qualification that time be provided to answer these problems first, the second qualification I have on the morality of non-lethal weapons is that laws are actually implemented to govern their proper use, both on the national and international scale.
     A third conflict that I'm considering solved by time is something I've mentioned several times already, the idea of a “true” non-lethal weapon. While what exactly that means technically will depend upon the eventual definition, what I use it to mean is a weapon that can be directed at a target, incapacitate them for a desired length of time, and allow them to be physically unaffected in the future by the experience. The advancement of technology is rapid, and has progressed from the simple stun grenade of the 1960s to the microwave-emitting Active Denial System of the current day. Given even more time, the technology will only be refined and perfected until such qualifications are met. Given that this qualification of time is met, the argument of lasting physical side-effects or unintentional effects of weapons (such as in the Moscow theater incident) is removed. (BBC)
     I have a third qualification, and that is that the users of the weapons be sufficiently well-educated enough about the use of the weapons to use them competently and appropriately. With this qualification, I rule out the arguments that non-lethal weapons are problematic if improperly used. The complaint still exists, but if the practice is to properly teach the use of the weapon, the argument becomes aimed at individual violators rather than the policy governing the weapons.
     We will assume these three qualifications (time for definition and development, legal regulation on an international level, and proper education in use) are met, as I'm not arguing the morality of the weapons if they are not met.
     The morality of the use of non-lethal weapons hinges on a single main argument: that causing fewer deaths is a morally good thing. I place my basis for this on the shoulders of utilitarianism, that the action that supports the general happiness is the morally correct thing to do. Therefore, in order for my argument to be true, I need to reinforce the idea that causing fewer deaths creates more happiness that creating more deaths. In the current day, this would not be so simple to argue. People are left with debilitating wounds and occasionally even death from non-lethal weapons, casting doubt that death is always the less-happy route to take. However, once my qualifications are met, those concerns evaporate quite readily. The true non-lethal weapon leaves no permanent effect, allowing a person who would otherwise have died, ending their potential for happiness, to continue living and become happy. Additionally, while their death could prevent their own unhappiness at the fallout from the non-lethal weapon, their death would also cause unhappiness in those around him while he contributes no additional happiness from not suffering, resulting in the net result still being a negative amount of happiness. If both create unhappiness, but one allows for additional happiness afterward, would that one not be the better choice? If it was the current day and the injury didn't allow for additional happiness afterward, perhaps, but that is not the case in our scenario. Thus, not killing an individual will result in a greater net happiness than killing them would. As such, opting for the option that would not kill them, the non-lethal weapon, is the moral choice, and the choice of warring non-lethally becomes morally justified.
     This position is not without its opponents. This trio of arguments all attempt to defeat this moral position, but are all refuted by the same general line of reasoning. The first argument is that of non-lethality being a poor deterrent. A non-lethal state has a hard time avoiding having war declared on it for its potential vulnerability and the lack of harm directed at the aggresor since the non-lethal state is not killing them. The second argument is that using non-lethal force primarily actually lowers the inhibitions against war, making it seem more reasonable to go to war over something as the targeted group is not at as much risk because you will not be killing them. The third is that war will stretch on longer than before as sides are less-inclined to surrender early to avoid destruction and damage is felt less as the opposing side isn't really losing any lives.
     My response to these arguments would be that they are true, yet do not change the situation. They can be summarized as this: You will have war declared against you more, you will declare war against others more, and wars will last longer. The first can be mitigated if you retain lethal force for defense of the country, but don't use it for aggression, even in peacekeeping or humanitarian intervention. The latter two are true, but are outweighed by the benefits of the non-lethal weapons. Overall, the wars will be more frequent and last longer, but there will be less death happening on either side, and the general happiness will accordingly be higher. People may become restless or tired of specific wars, but significantly less so than one would be if the death toll was higher.
     Other counter-arguments are more difficult to break. One would be that, along with the lengthened wars, they would become more economically unfeasible. Take into account that you need to actually do something with all of those incapacitated enemy combatants, and you have a sizable financial problem on your hands. In one way, this could actually be turned into a benefit: if wars are more difficult to maintain in a morally-strong way, wars will be less frequent. The second argument above, that we will have lower inhibitions about going to war, will be removed if we have the increased inhibition against war because of the difficulty of maintaining it economically. This doesn't solve the problem however. I could argue that the saving of human lives is more important than the saving of money. However, spend enough money on the non-lethal effort and your country cannot support their own people, which creates a great level of unhappiness, more than the happiness being left possible by not killing the enemy. I think that the best way to approach this is to consider the benefit of economic difficulty deterring war. If a people thinks a war is unjust, they will not tolerate the huge economic destruction it would cause for them. If the people think a war is just though, they very well may be willing to sacrifice their own economic prosperity to succeed in the war. In this way, the economic troubles of a non-lethal war actually help to deter unjust wars and only take up just causes in creating war.
     There are two more primary counter-arguments against non-lethal weaponry's morality in war. The first is not really applicable to this discussion, and that's the potential for abuse of a non-lethal weapon if obtained by the wrong people. For example, a chief concern is the potential for terrorist use of an electromagnetic bomb ruining our society's economic and informational infrastructure. However, this is not actually a fault of using non-lethal weapons at all but of even developing or theorizing about them, and even if we do not pursue them the terrorist groups (and enemy nations) may still produce them on their own, leaving us completely unaware. Because of this, even development and theoretical conception of the weapons is vital, if for no other reason than to know how to protect ourselves against them.
      The second and final counter-argument is the measurement of non-physical harm, either lasting or temporary. I've established with my qualifications that the weapons used for this discussion have no lasting physical side effects and the target is physically left exactly as they were once the effects wear off. However, there are emotional and mental traumas that can never be fully removed. The dehumanization and embarrassment of being victimized, and the denial of someone's autonomy, are very real problems for non-lethal weaponry, regardless of how temporary its temporary effects are. My arguments against this are again based on the alternatives. Those alternatives are to allow the offending behavior to continue, or to act with lethal force. One is not morally allowable – leaving an unhappiness-causing behavior unaddressed does not increase general happiness at all, instead decreasing it. The other would not give them the chance to be happy again later, because even after the emotional trauma, death is still worse than not dying.
     [Conclusion of some kind]

Works Cited:
Kant's Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals
Mill's Utilitarianism

Known Issues:
* I lack the introduction and conclusion. I want to be confident in my main points before moving on to those. I may have written an introduction into the beginning anyway by accident, but there is definitely no conclusion.

* I am dangerously close to the word count limit for not having any intro or conclusion. This will likely be rectified by reducing my exegesis and removing things I don't need.

* I have not properly cited anything. These are very loose uses of the texts right now, and I'll be narrowing them somewhat and citing them properly – at this point I'm having trouble finding specific pages to cite for the broadness of my descriptions. Additionally, there isn't an additional scholarly article included yet, though I could likely find one that argues at least one of my counterpoints. The description of what an outside source is though (An outside source is defined as one that was not assigned as a reading for the course) makes me unsure of whether the news articles I use as reference count for the requirement. Even more descriptions (such as for some of the weapons) could probably use additional sources as well.

And that's the essay. Here's what I'd really like help with: I'm looking for three varieties of assistance.
If you are at all familiar with any of the moral arguments or discussions of non-lethal weapons or you have a basic common sense input (or even just a belief that ought to be represented), please share it. This includes complications to the argument, as well as additional support. If you know of any scholarly sources to aim at, even better. This is kinda like getting help at a revision level.
Second, if you have any experience with writing papers, I'd love some assistance if you think I did something poor in the general use of my language. Did I mess up something organizational? Did I make some really lame sentences that could use tons of improvement? Tell me. I need to know. This is like getting help at an editing level.
Lastly, if you have no experience with paper writing or morality or philosophy or non-lethal weapons, you can still help! Please, point out my basic errors: punctuation goofs, typos, duplicate sentences, stuff like that. This is like getting help at a proofreading level, and is no less important than either other part.
Please. Help me get a good grade. Thank you! I hope you enjoy the essay, and I'll post it again for realz when I've rewritten it with help from my peer critique partner, my professor, and any of you that can help.

End Recording,

No comments :

Post a Comment