Friday, February 1, 2013

Schoolwork: Military Ethics Policy Paper, The Moral Justification of Non-Lethal Weapons
Was watching Kung-Fu Jesus's Kingdom Hearts 2 LP and he replaced the final boss music with this from the Bonkers! 16 compilation. It was pretty rad - that game is fucking ridiculous, but that last fight LOOKS super-awesome. Tetsuya Nomura makes a lot of lame styles, but when he's good, he's really good (see: that Xemnas fight, the entire The World Ends With You).

Exactly what the title says, this is the revised version of the original essay I put up a couple weeks ago. It's far superior to what I had then.
Here's the prompt again.
"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?"
There. Now here's the essay itself. Unlike the religion ones, this one has proper citations.

Max Hervieux
PHIL224 – Policy Essay
Word Count: 3034
            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. Following the tenets of utilitarianism, I believe that non-lethal weapons are theoretically moral to use based on the greater potential for contribution of happiness by targets, given that a few specific qualifications are met, namely that time is given for development and regulation and that users are properly educated.
            Early non-lethal weapons were quite simple and direct in their use. Spray agents that have become common are tear (CS) gas and pepper spray[1], useful for their pain-causing but usually non-lethal abilities. Another non-lethal weapon that has become very wide-spread is the Taser (and similar stun-guns of different brands), a close-combat device used to direct an electric shock at the target[2]. 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[3] and beanbag rounds[4]. Hostage situations are handled with the assistance of gas-type weapons, particularly tear gas, though its use is declining due to side-effects. One of the less-controversial (though not completely without controversy) military-use non-lethal weapons is the stun grenade[5], 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 new and specialized devices, some of which are new approaches to existing technologies and some of which are entirely new concepts. Brand new technologies being used, or at least explored, include sonic/acoustic weapons[6] (which use projected sound-waves of varying frequencies to deter or scare targets out of a target region), laser weapons[7] (intended to temporarily blind) and microwave weapons[8] (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.[9] 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.[10]
            Utilitarianism, as understood by John Stuart Mill, 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[11]. 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.
            One particular journal, The Futurist, has published many articles arguing both for and against non-lethal weapons, revealing the rampant disagreement about the subject. For example, one article argues that the prospects of non-lethal weapons make them too potentially useful for us to ignore them entirely. It also draws up current technology and explains their problems, but provides a guideline for what an “ideal” non-lethal weapon would look like.[12] On the other hand, a different article argues against non-lethal weapons with arguments such as the idea that non-lethal harm being acceptable causes severe implications in other legal areas. However, even this article states that the problem is a short-term issue, with the future potentially being different.[13]
            I  agree with Mill that the theoretical use of non-lethal weapons is moral because the large number of deaths they have the potential to prevent will create more happiness for more people and prevent much unhappiness, although I have a few qualifications that must be met before I would accept non-lethal weapons being put into practical use. One of those requirements is that time be given for the development of an 'ideal' non-lethal weapon and for the legal community to catch up and regulate this new form of weapon, and the the other requirement is that users, whether police or military, are properly educated and trained in their use. I would still argue that there is nothing intrinsically immoral about the concept of using of non-lethal weapons.
            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. Thus, I need to argue that death is worse than life inconvenienced. It would seem impossible to refute that every living person has the potential to generate happiness – barring mental illness, there are no people fundamentally incapable of happiness. So, as long as we are living, we have the ability to add happiness to the general well-being. It would also seem ridiculous to deny that a dead person can not contribute to the general happiness any longer; they are no longer a source of either happiness or unhappiness. Given this, we can conclude that, for death to be a better result for the general happiness, the individual's life after being targeted by a non-lethal weapon must produce more happiness than unhappiness, since producing more unhappiness would result in a net loss to the general happiness, making that action immoral. My evidence that non-lethal weapons could produce more happiness than unhappiness lies within one of my qualifications: the requirement that, before use, an “ideal” non-lethal weapon be developed. My own definition is quite in line with Tenenbaum and Moore's, with one of the most important criterion being that the subject will be neutralized “temporarily, with little or no side effects.”[14] One of my own clarifications would be that any potential side effects need to be temporary as well.
            Given this weapon though, a target of the non-lethal weapon will be creating a certain amount of unhappiness immediately, but this will wear off and they will again have the potential to continue contributing positively to the general happiness. If they had been targeted with lethal force instead, they would have been removed from the equation without contributing more to the general happiness (overlooking whatever burst of unhappiness may be caused during death). So, on the individual level, death has zero effect on general happiness, while non-lethal action has a negative effect followed by potential for positive effects. Taken on a societal scale, however, death doesn't really have zero effect. Death makes the people around the victim unhappy, whether they be friends, family, or just other citizens who hear about it – death is considered a tragedy by society. In this way, death has purely a negative effect on general happiness, with no potential for future happiness from the victim. Given the option of two paths of which both cause immediate unhappiness but only one of which provides the possibility of future positive contribution, the one that permits more happiness to occur would be the moral option. That path is to take non-lethal action.
            Several arguments exist that would attempt to counter the assertion that non-lethal weapons are a positive moral force. Several of the more basic arguments are countered by the qualifications I've set up.
            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. Without legal regulation, the weapons could be abused or employed poorly. Time and debate will produce laws of the same caliber, or greater, than the ones we currently use to govern lethal international conflict.
            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. Tenenbaum and Moore have a more comprehensive answer, but this is what I consider the most important core.[15] 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)[16]
            The second qualification 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 or incompetently 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.
            Even should my qualifications be met, my position is not without its opponents. The following 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 aggressor since the non-lethal state is not killing them. The second argument is that using non-lethal force primarily actually lowers the threshold of violence and inhibitions against willingness to declare war, making it seem more reasonable to go to war over some dispute because 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 even should they prove to be true, they do not change the situation. 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. This way, you are not made more vulnerable by the non-lethal weapons, but are rendered less deadly when on the offensive. The latter two arguments 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. Should the populace ever tire so much of a war that they are no longer willing to sacrifice to participate in it, it would indicate that the people seem to no longer believe the war to be worth it, and since I'm allowing lethal weaponry in national defense it would not apply to the one cause that may be considered to never be worth surrendering.
            Other arguments are more difficult to counter. 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 large concern is the potential for terrorist use of an electromagnetic bomb (a specific for of non-lethal weaponry), ruining our society's economic and informational infrastructure.[17] However, this is not actually a fault of using non-lethal weapons at all but of developing or even 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.
            There are some serious implications of morally allowing non-lethal weapons. The first, and largest, implication is that, ultimately, bloodless war is unlikely. I permitted the use of lethal weapons in national defense, and rarely is a war fought where neither party is operating in their own country (though they do happen – the Gulf War might be considered one), so even if two non-lethal nations are at war, one would likely be acting lethally. Even given that, the potential for the entire world to have its general happiness elevated by a lack of deaths and, potentially, a reduced number of wars is far too significant for the world to completely ignore. Morally, the implication is that if harm is temporary, it is preferable to death, almost regardless of the severity of the harm. The implication that temporary harm is not morally problematic does have the potential to be an issue, particularly in the context of torture. The only real way to counter that implication is to work to ensure that non-lethal action is only used to replace situations where lethal action would otherwise be necessary, not spread to be able to be used in a larger number of situations (such as in, say, a domestic dispute). As long as these rules are followed, non-lethal weapons will produce more general happiness than lethal action would, and that makes non-lethal weapons the moral strategy to use.

[1]          The City of New York, "Tear Gas/Riot Control Agents." Last modified 2013. Accessed January 29, 2013.
[2]          HowStuffWorks, Inc, "How Stun Guns Work." Last modified 2013. Accessed January 29, 2013.
[3]          The Slate Group, LLC, "What Are Rubber Bullets?." Last modified 2013. Accessed January 29, 2013.
[4]          Ijames, Steve., "In defense of the 12-gauge "bean-bag" round." Last modified 2005. Accessed January 29, 2013.
[5]          Elite UK Forces, "SAS Weapons - Stun Grenade." Last modified 2013. Accessed January 29, 2013.
[6]          Yenigun, Sami. NPR, "Bad Vibrations: Investigating Sound As Terror." Last modified 2012. Accessed January 29, 2013.
[7]          Thales Group, "Green Light Optical Warner." Last modified 2013. Accessed January 29, 2013.
[8]          Pike, John., "Vehicle-Mounted Active Denial System (V-MADS)." Last modified 2013. Accessed January 29, 2013.
[9]          Balko, Radley. The Agitator, "SWAT Officer Killed By Non-Lethal Flashbang Grenade." Last modified 2011. Accessed January 29, 2013.
[10]        Soylent Communications, "Ruben Salazar." Last modified 2012. Accessed January 29, 2013.
[11]        Mill, John Stuart. Utilitarianism, Second Edition. Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc, 2001.
[12]        Tenenbaum, Abraham, and Angela Moore. "Non-lethal weapons." The Futurist. 27. no. 5 (1993): 20-23.
[13]        Lewer, Nick. "Objections to Weapons of Less Destruction." The Futurist. 33. no. 8 (1999): 39-40.
[14]        Tenenbaum, Abraham, and Angela Moore. "Non-lethal weapons." The Futurist. 27. no. 5 (1993): 22.
[15]        Tenenbaum, Abraham, and Angela Moore. "Non-lethal weapons." The Futurist. 27. no. 5 (1993): 22.
[16]        BBC, "Gas 'Killed Moscow Hostages'." Last modified 2002. Accessed January 29, 2013.
[17]        Kopp, Carlo. "The Electromagnetic Bomb - a Weapon of Electrical Mass Destruction." Air & Space Power Journal - Chronicles Online Journal. (1996). (accessed January 29, 2013).

So there you go. Maybe you learned something, maybe you know about the subject and agree, maybe you disagree, maybe I was convincing, maybe I wasn't. The essay pulled a B+, which I think is pretty decent since the Apocalypse Now essay (which I think I did a pretty great job on) only got a B-. Tough professor.

Done with the class now. It was decent, far better than I was expecting. Definitely NOT interested in pursuing philosophy though. Expecting a straight B from it, which is okay. Out of class until next Wednesday.
Later folks, enjoy the essay! Let me know if you found it interesting!
End Recording,

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