Israel/Palestine discussion

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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby yoni45 » Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:43 am UTC

Torchship wrote:Shouldn't the good of the Iranian people also be a factor that the West should consider when it decides how it operates? Iranians are not subhuman monsters; their suffering matters just as much as the suffering of Westerners. I consider any moral system which allows arbitrary political divisions to give the West a "get out of jail free" card when it comes to inflicting suffering upon their opponents absolutely horrific.


Carte blanche in that regard is indeed a bit much, but you also can't put Iranians on the same level as Westerners in this regard. Just to be clear here: I'm not saying Iranians are any less "human" than Westerners, but the Western world has to hold the well-being of its *own* people first. That's pretty much the mandate of any given government: to protect the interests of its people.

Although I should qualify my earlier comment: this doesn't mean that an uptick in oil prices might justify annihilating an entire village. The good of the Iranian people definitely is a factor to a significant extent. But that said, the relevance of the good of the Iranian people very quickly falls into "do what needs be done while minimizing damage to the people" once the threat to the West crosses into "serious" territory.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby Greyarcher » Sat Feb 25, 2012 2:19 pm UTC

Ghostbear wrote:
Greyarcher wrote:Roughly speaking...you draw a dichotomy between "military target" and "non-military target" and use a slippery slope to counter defining targets differently?

To start, it's not a slippery slope (what's with all the attempts at people claiming logical fallacies lately?). It's a one step process: once you say "these people are valid military targets, because they are vital to the war machine" then you open up nearly every citizen or resident of that country with the exact same logic, because they will all also be vital to the war machine, either in aggregate or individually. You don't see the problem with that?

* Slippery slope: : "Modern usage includes a logically valid form, in which a minor action causes a significant impact through a long chain of logical relationships. Note that establishing this chain of logical implication (or quantifying the relevant probabilities) makes this form logically valid. The slippery slope argument remains a fallacy if such a chain is not established."
There is a chain of relationships (though I would not call it "long", as it consists of one step) and there is logic behind that connection. The fact that it is logically valid would counter your criticism on those lines in the first case, but the fact that it is not a "long chain" also prevents it from being a slippery slope in the first place.
Eh, I majored in philosophy so I naturally remember it and use it. (IIRC, we had a third year course specifically dedicated to traditional fallacy classifications in relation to formal and informal argumentation, and the merits and flaws of those classifications. It was a bit interesting; the prof was pretty decent.) Also, I'd say the classical form--just above the section of wikipedia you quoted--is probably more relevant to what I meant.

I called it a slippery slope, because "vitalness to the military machine" can be seen as a spectrum, and saying that one cannot use that spectrum at all in one's reasoning without slipping all the way to "all people are valid military targets" is silly.

Anyone can draw a line in the spectrum. That is human discretion, and human judgment. If I say darkness factors into my clothing choice, that doesn't mean I slide all the way along from black to grey to white; I may use my own judgment to say, "let us draw the line here; this is dark enough". So too can people consider "vitalness to the military machine" and draw a line between targets they consider appropriate and targets they do not.

Categorization is human discretion and, as I mentioned before,
Greyarcher wrote:"Weapons researchers" or "nuclear technology researchers" or "people with dyed blue hair" could have easily been included in the category of "valid military targets" back then. At no time would anyone need to say, "Well, that must mean all civilians are acceptable targets then!", and if people did say that we wouldn't need to agree with them.
Or did you think, in that post of Zamfir's you linked, that bombing of factories and collateral loss of life to civilians was permitted on reasoning other than the factories' vitalness to the military machine? They could have well used that exact criterion, but that need not have prevented them from drawing the line where they did.

Perhaps it would be more clear if we hypothetically thought that "vitalness to the military machine" places researchers of dangerous technologies significantly on the "more vital" part of the spectrum? It is all a bit fuzzy and may vary according to people's intuitions, and you need not agree with that hypothetical. But the point is, as long as human judgment and human restraint is there then there is never any concern about suddenly jumping to, "clearly we accept all people as valid targets".
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby Ghostbear » Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:13 pm UTC

Greyarcher wrote:Eh, I majored in philosophy so I naturally remember it and use it. Also, I'd say the classical form--just above the section of wikipedia you quoted--is probably more relevant to what I meant.

I called it a slippery slope, because you're seeing "vitalness to the military machine" as a spectrum, and then saying one cannot use that spectrum at all without slipping all the way to "all people are valid military targets".

That is patently absurd. Anyone can draw a line in the spectrum. That is human discretion, and human judgment. If I say I want dark clothes, that doesn't mean I slide all the way along from black to grey to white; I may use my own judgment to say, "let us draw the line here; this is dark enough". So too can people consider "vitalness to the military machine" and draw a line between targets they consider appropriate and targets they do not.

I don't think that the classical definition makes it a slippery slope either: "In the classical form, the arguer suggests that making a move in a particular direction starts something on a path down a "slippery slope". Having started down the metaphorical slope, it will continue to slide in the same direction [...]"
It's not a multi-step process, it isn't continuing to slide. It's one stage: once you can justify killing specific civilians because they're vital to military capacity, you can kill any civilian that is vital to military capacity. To be a slippery slope it'd need to continue making advances from the proposed leap. It isn't doing that (it's applying that same logic, unchanged, to others), therefor it isn't a slippery slope. It's examining the full implications of a decision or logical process. And the reason this specific application is bad is because (nearly) every civilian can be argued to be vital to military capacity. You could assassinate elected officials, bankers, farmers, entertainers, mail people, clothiers, construction workers- they're all vital to the ability for the military to function.

(Also, the part about logical fallacies wasn't directed specifically at you- there's been a lot of people claiming (often incorrectly) that others are using logical fallacies on the boards as of late. It feels like everyone came across the Little Timmy's list of logical fallacies all at the same time. It's like they're all making an appeal to authority.... What, nobody? Not funny? OK, I'll stop.)

Greyarcher wrote:Categorization is human discretion and, as I mentioned before,
[...]
Or did you think, in that post of Zamfir's you linked, that bombing of factories of collateral damage to civilians was permitted on reasoning other than the factories vitalness to the military machine? They could have well used that exact criterion, but that need not have prevented them from drawing the line where they did.

Factories are not people: the civilian workers are acceptable collateral damage so long as they weren't the intended target. You can blow up a factory without killing a single person. You can't kill a scientist without killing a single person.

yoni45 wrote:None of that changes the fact that it's a ridiculous absolute: all you're doing is defending it by arguing against another ridiculous absolute. The fact that it's ridiculous to paint anyone that can be linked in any way to a military program as a valid target does not detract from the fact that it's ridiculous to give a free pass to anyone that's not "officially" labeled as part of said program.

How proximate is a single construction worker to a nuclear program? How vital? How replaceable? How necessary is the action?

Those answers are probably quite different for a lead scientist.

You're changing goals again: originally you said part of the military itself, implying that they were members of the armed forces of Iran. Now you're limiting it to a military program. There is a very large difference between those two. I'd say the construction worker is very vital: without anyone to build the nuclear enrichment facilities, there is nothing practical for the scientist to work on, there is no actual output- there would never be power generation or weapon creation. No workers, no program. Would you be OK with killing the workers?

You're also vastly overstating the automatic military application of a nuclear program rather heavily: it has a huge civilian aspect to it (I'd say a larger one, considering the plethora of example nations such as Japan, Taiwan, Sweden, Germany- there are more countries with a completely non-military nuclear program than there are countries with nuclear weapons)

yoni45 wrote:That's all false -- you can do just as much with either. Especially when it comes to the points substantive to their contribution to Iran's military capabilities.

Um, no? I wouldn't say any of it is false. Trying to do all of that with a civilian increases your administrative and personnel workload considerably, opens up vulnerabilities within your programs, mess with your chain of command. Saying "that's all false" is completely disingenuous.

yoni45 wrote:Seriously? Cherry picking much? Why in the world would you use your examples when they're clearly not the relevant ones?

Let's talk instead to the NATO pilots or the cruise missile operators who didn't have to touch a single firearm and simply pressed all kinds of buttons -- the reasoning that all we have to do is call them civilians and they'd become untouchable is ridiculous.

Cherry picking? You said less vital:
Vital, adjective: necessary to the existence, continuance, or well-being of something; indispensable; essential
Do you think that the invasion of Iraq could have been done without soldiers? That Libya could have freed itself with only NATO air power (hell, even with NATO air power-see below)? That the occupation of Afghanistan would be successful without boots on the ground? If not, then combat is vital, because it would have been necessary. This is literal, by the very definition of the word you used. The whole concept of "fighting" not being vital to war is one of the most absurd things I have ever heard in my life.

As for the pilots and missile operators: they'd be engaging in hostilities, so they'd still be valid targets anyway. Flying an armed warplane, or driving a tank, or launching a million dollar guided missile are definitely "fighting". I'll save myself the eventual disagreement:
Fighting, verb: to contend with in battle or combat; war against
I'm pretty sure there have been entirely or principally aerial battles (technically a campaign, but campaigns are made up of multiple battles). I'd expect that most pilots would consider their experiences with hostile aircraft or targets to be "combat".
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby yoni45 » Sat Feb 25, 2012 5:12 pm UTC

I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt here, but your last response was pretty much repeated equivocation/scope shifting.

Ghostbear wrote:You're changing goals again: originally you said part of the military itself...I'd say the construction worker is very vital...


My "goals" have been pretty consistent in not allowing official labels to obfuscate the issue, and all you've been running back to is "BUT OFFICIALLY!". Get this right: I'm not concerned with whether "officially" they are part of the military, and I clearly defined that for the purposes of my argument, being responsible for and vital to the military's system makes you part of that military.

Do you have anything better than arguing definitions to your point?

(and no, a given construction worker is obviously not as vital as a nuclear scientist. Or as proximate. Or as replaceable. In an effort to get something out your points are getting close to "well they both wear clothes so they must be alike!").

Ghostbear wrote:You're also vastly overstating the automatic military application of a nuclear program rather heavily...


Stick to the scope. The Western powers aren't concerned with the civilian aspect of Iran's program, but with the military one.

Ghostbear wrote:Um, no? I wouldn't say any of it is false. Trying to do all of that with a civilian increases your administrative and personnel workload considerably, opens up vulnerabilities within your programs, mess with your chain of command. Saying "that's all false" is completely disingenuous.


No, it isn't. If you're offloading military capabilities onto a civilian body, you build up that civilian body just as you would the military one. At best, costs might be different. Interestingly enough, none of what you cited in your response is actually "substantive to their contribution to Iran's military capabilities".

Ghostbear wrote:Cherry picking?


Correct. The point is regarding personnel that aren't physically fighting -- no one is arguing about personnel that are. Why exactly would you use them as examples if they're not relevant to the point?

(besides the point, you defined "vital" but failed to comprehend the concept of "less")

But anyway, no -- you have no problem equivocating between what is and isn't part of the military effort. I don't see why you wouldn't allow civilians pushing buttons in planes to get similar protections. I mean, sure, if they consider themselves "fighting" or if they're part of the military, then I guess they'd become targets. But otherwise, as long as they just consider themselves civilian "button pushers", part of a civilian body, then your reasoning dictates that they be afforded similar protections. The same applies to their commanders supervisors, to the UAV operators, to the cruise missile operators, etc.

These civilian button-pushers would also be clearly separate from the military because see, incorporating them "increases the military's administrative and personnel workload considerably, opens up vulnerabilities within the military's programs, messes with their chain of command", etc.

And we can't make the button pushers legitimate targets just because pushing those buttons happens to contribute to the military effort: god-knows how many other innocent people are going to become valid targets too.
Last edited by yoni45 on Sat Feb 25, 2012 9:13 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby Greyarcher » Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:08 pm UTC

Ghostbear wrote:I don't think that the classical definition makes it a slippery slope either: "In the classical form, the arguer suggests that making a move in a particular direction starts something on a path down a "slippery slope". Having started down the metaphorical slope, it will continue to slide in the same direction [...]"
It's not a multi-step process, it isn't continuing to slide. It's one stage: once you can justify killing specific civilians because they're vital to military capacity, you can kill any civilian that is vital to military capacity. To be a slippery slope it'd need to continue making advances from the proposed leap. It isn't doing that (it's applying that same logic, unchanged, to others), therefor it isn't a slippery slope. It's examining the full implications of a decision or logical process. And the reason this specific application is bad is because (nearly) every civilian can be argued to be vital to military capacity. You could assassinate elected officials, bankers, farmers, entertainers, mail people, clothiers, construction workers- they're all vital to the ability for the military to function.
You say here "it can be argued". The mistake is in suggesting we must accept that argument merely because we've referenced "vitalness".

This, specifically, exemplifies the slippery slope superbly despite your denial: "It's one stage: once you can justify killing specific civilians because they're vital to military capacity, you can kill any civilian that is vital to military capacity." I have repeated before that, at any point, people may say "no, these civilians are not sufficiently vital". If you think we cannot, that is your slippery slope. There is no logical necessity to moving from "we consider these types of civilians sufficiently vital to be targeted" to "we consider all civilians sufficiently vital to be targeted".

The evaluation of sufficiency, there, is the element of human discretion. You mentioned "the full implications of a decision or logical process", but that evaluation is not a decision of pure logic. It is a judgment call made by people who will often have no desire to permit targeting all civilians. People can draw that line wherever they please, based on a whole set of possible values, principles, and criteria as varies from person to person; the fact that they can do so means the problem as you describe it need not exist.

Perhaps you have this disagreement because you have a very peculiar view of what constitutes "vitalness". And/or you don't recognize any other criterion in distinguishing civilians from one another. But even if you think, say, a weapons researcher is as vital than a convenience store owner, I do not need to agree. Moreover, I would reject the convenience store owner as being far too indirectly connected to the war effort.

No offense intended but, at most, I think this may mean that--were we to accept civilians as possible targets--you would probably not be a good choice for deciding when we should no longer consider a civilian vital to the war effort. Or, because you are so fixed on the idea that civilians must not be targets, you cannot even begin to see how someone might draw a line and say, "No, we don't consider entertainers vital enough to be valid targets; civilian weapon researchers only".


Edit: Pardon, I edit my posts repeatedly. But I think I'm settled with this one now.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:50 pm UTC

yoni45 wrote:Carte blanche in that regard is indeed a bit much, but you also can't put Iranians on the same level as Westerners in this regard. Just to be clear here: I'm not saying Iranians are any less "human" than Westerners, but the Western world has to hold the well-being of its *own* people first. That's pretty much the mandate of any given government: to protect the interests of its people.

This, interestingly, is something that Torchship disagrees with.

Torchship wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:Okay, so is it okay if a parent refuses to feed her two children because her money can feed four other children?

Absolutely.


Torchship, pure utilitarianism is not a good moral system. A society in which people's lives are subject entirely to the whims of those responsible for taking care of them is not a happy society. It means that parents can decide to kill their children (as in this example), that hospitals can kick sick people out on the street to die, and that armies can decide to let their countries be eliminated. Seriously, with that attitude we'd have lost WWII because there were going to be so many more Japanese casualties than American ones.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby Ghostbear » Sun Feb 26, 2012 8:22 am UTC

Greyarcher wrote:This, specifically, exemplifies the slippery slope superbly despite your denial: "It's one stage: once you can justify killing specific civilians because they're vital to military capacity, you can kill any civilian that is vital to military capacity." I have repeated before that, at any point, people may say "no, these civilians are not sufficiently vital". If you think we cannot, that is your slippery slope. There is no logical necessity to moving from "we consider these types of civilians sufficiently vital to be targeted" to "we consider all civilians sufficiently vital to be targeted".

No you're making a slippery slope out of further assumptions. The argument: "Saying you can kill a civilian vital to the military means you can kill other civilians vital to the military." Where is the slippery slope in that statement? There is none, because there is no slope, there is no further movement: if the two ideas in that sentence could be plotted on a graph, they would have the same coordinates. One is a statement "we can this civilian vital to the military" the other is the ramifications of that statement: "We can kill other civilians vital to the military". There is no slippery slope. A slipper slope would be me saying "Once you OK killing scientists, they will be killing every type of civilian". There is a jump there- it goes from saying "this is OK" to doing something something else. It is not, however, what I am arguing: "Once you OK killing scientists because they're vital, you can OK killing other vital civilians". Do you see the difference there? One is consistence of application (applying the same determination of "killability" to all vital civilians) and the other consists of taking justifications and turning it into actions. Don't call something a slippery slope when it is not- if you disagree with an argument, do so on grounds other than claims of logical fallacies.

Why I think that situation is bad: "Most civilians are vital to the military in some manner- you could make a case for killing most civilians." You're connecting the two statements together as connected in their logic erroneously to create your supposed slippery slope. They are connected, but only in that they're both part of my argument, in that they both lead me to my conclusion.

Greyarcher wrote:The evaluation of sufficiency, there, is the element of human discretion. You mentioned "the full implications of a decision or logical process", but that evaluation is not a decision of pure logic. It is a judgment call made by people who will often have no desire to permit targeting all civilians. People can draw that line wherever they please, based on a whole set of possible values, principles, and criteria as varies from person to person; the fact that they can do so means the problem as you describe it need not exist.

Perhaps you have this disagreement because you have a very peculiar view of what constitutes "vitalness". And/or you don't recognize any other criterion in distinguishing civilians from one another. But even if you think, say, a weapons researcher is as vital than a convenience store owner, I do not need to agree. Moreover, I would reject the convenience store owner as being far too indirectly connected to the war effort.

What does my definition of importance have to do with anything? I know full well that different civilians will have different levels of importance; that does not prevent me from being terrified of the implications of killing people that are determined to be vital.

Greyarcher wrote:No offense intended but, at most, I think this may mean that--were we to accept civilians as possible targets--you would probably not be a good choice for deciding when we should no longer consider a civilian vital to the war effort. Or, because you are so fixed on the idea that civilians must not be targets, you cannot even begin to see how someone might draw a line and say, "No, we don't consider entertainers vital enough to be valid targets; civilian weapon researchers only".

Fancy that, if we were to decide on something I completely disagree with, I'd be bad at choosing how to enforce it? I don't think that's at all relevant to the discussion. I could say that your argument means that I'd be terrified of you being in charge of any significant parts of the armed forces, but it contributes nothing to the discussion, does it?
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby sourmìlk » Sun Feb 26, 2012 5:28 pm UTC

Ghostbear wrote:No you're making a slippery slope out of further assumptions. The argument: "Saying you can kill a civilian vital to the military means you can kill other civilians vital to the military." Where is the slippery slope in that statement? There is none, because there is no slope, there is no further movement: if the two ideas in that sentence could be plotted on a graph, they would have the same coordinates. One is a statement "we can this civilian vital to the military" the other is the ramifications of that statement: "We can kill other civilians vital to the military". There is no slippery slope.

Okay, here's the problem: vitality is not an absolute. A civilian is not either vital or not vital to the military with no middleground. Not every iota of vitality justifies an assassination.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby yoni45 » Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:02 pm UTC

Ghostbear wrote:One is a statement "we [kill] can this civilian vital to the military" the other is the ramifications of that statement: "We can kill other civilians vital to the military". There is no slippery slope.


That's like the textbook example of a slippery slope. Just as: " "we can kill this person [soldier] vital to the military" the other is the ramifications of that statement: "We can kill other people vital to the military" " would be a slippery slope.

Both quite clearly overlook matters of degree (which interestingly enough, you actually waived off as irrelevant), other relevant criteria, and discretion in that regard as they "slip" down the slope.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby sourmìlk » Sun Feb 26, 2012 7:17 pm UTC

He didn't quite wave them off as irrelevant, he just doesn't think that a degree exists. Which I don't quite get, because I clearly am less vital (perhaps even detrimental) to the military than, say, the owner of lockheed martin.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby yoni45 » Sun Feb 26, 2012 7:21 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:He didn't quite wave them off as irrelevant, he just doesn't think that a degree exists. Which I don't quite get, because I clearly am less vital (perhaps even detrimental) to the military than, say, the owner of lockheed martin.


"...What does my definition of importance have to do with anything? I know full well that different civilians will have different levels of importance..."
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby sourmìlk » Sun Feb 26, 2012 7:24 pm UTC

Okay that's just weird.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby sardia » Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:53 pm UTC

Why Obama balks on action towards Iran and Syria.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/26/sunda ... gewanted=1
TLDR: Obama will only use unilateral actions when "American direct interests" are threatened, and not when "indirect interests" are involved. That's not to say that the US won't get involved; the republicans may push harder for a strike, Israel may attack anyway forcing US support, or Iran/Syria gets much worse and the death toll reaches millions. Still, it gives reasoning to why Israel keeps saying that Iran could hit the US with missiles, while the secretary of defense denies that possibility. They're trying to convince the US that Iran/Syria is the former, not the latter problem.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:56 am UTC

Yeah, I don't buy the argument that Iran is going to get missiles that can hit the US. They only recently got missiles that can hit Israel and the US is a long way away.

As for the Obama Doctrine: it appears to eliminate the possibility of protecting allies with military force, which doesn't seem like a great strategy. That is, unless the continued existence of an ally is considered a direct interest of America and not an indirect one. But particularly in the light of the Iraq war, among other things, the Obama Doctrine is, at worst, erring on the more sensible side of things.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:03 am UTC

To somebody who said that neither Hezbollah or Hamas were currently engaging in hostilities with Israel:

Hamas continues to fire rockets at southern Israel
Those rockets are fired more for the purpose of terrorizing the populace than inflicting casualties: they set of warning sirens and in general disrupt daily life. In response to continued rocket attacks, Israel managed to take down a weapons factory and tunnel in Gaza.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby Ghostbear » Mon Feb 27, 2012 6:43 am UTC

yoni45 wrote:That's like the textbook example of a slippery slope. Just as: " "we can kill this person [soldier] vital to the military" the other is the ramifications of that statement: "We can kill other people vital to the military" " would be a slippery slope.

Both quite clearly overlook matters of degree (which interestingly enough, you actually waived off as irrelevant), other relevant criteria, and discretion in that regard as they "slip" down the slope.

No, you're ignoring my full explanation: it's the full ramifications of the logic being used. When you say you can kill a specific civilian because they're vital to the military, then that means you can kill other civilians because they're vital to the military. That is not a slippery slope- that is the exact logic being used to determine that that one individual can be killed. It's taking that logic verbatim. It's not a slippery slope because it is using that exact same justification elsewhere! There's no stretch there, it isn't going anywhere beyond where it started, it's not a leap, there's no slipping. If you don't understand what actually makes something a slippery slope, don't go around saying that something is one.

The people making the overall decision will care about the degree, but the fact that they are going to have to decide that is part of the ramifications. If not for "we can kill certain civilians that are vital to the military" conclusion, then nobody would be deciding between civilian targets based on those degrees- they'd just say "We can't kill this person, because they're a civilian".
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby yedidyak » Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:01 pm UTC

According to the new Wikileaks stuff, it seems that Israel has already been destroying Iranian nuclear facilities along with Kurdish rebels.

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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby yoni45 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 6:13 pm UTC

Ghostbear wrote:No, you're ignoring my full explanation: it's the full ramifications of the logic being used. When you say you can kill a specific civilian because they're vital to the military, then that means you can kill other civilians because they're vital to the military...


The "logic" being used accounts for matters of degree, so nothing is being ignored here: your "full explanation" is simply inaccurate.

(and the inaccuracy is largely a matter of slipping from one degree of 'vitality' to lesser degrees of vitality, and that's not to mention the ridiculous implications of your position otherwise)
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby Ghostbear » Mon Feb 27, 2012 6:43 pm UTC

yoni45 wrote:The "logic" being used accounts for matters of degree, so nothing is being ignored here: your "full explanation" is simply inaccurate.

(and the inaccuracy is largely a matter of slipping from one degree of 'vitality' to lesser degrees of vitality, and that's not to mention the ridiculous implications of your position otherwise)

No, you truly aren't bothering with my full argument (as shown by you repeatedly ignoring my comments about how justification does factor in). You can't just take one sentence and remove it entirely from it's full explanation and prove it wrong- you need to actually respond to the rest of the logic used. You have not, and you continue to not do so. I would appreciate it if you did. I have mentioned how degree fits into this several times, please stop ignoring it.

Here, everyone loves analogies:
If a person says "I can steal this orange, because I'm hungry" then it is not a slippery slope to say that it would allow them to justify stealing a different orange because they were hungry. "Because I'm hungry" was turned into an acceptable justification for stealing an orange by that person. A slope (though I would not call it "slippery") would be saying it'd jump to "I can steal this cake, because I'm hungry", a slippery slope would be saying it could jump to "I can steal this car, because I'm hungry". How hungry they are matters, but "hunger" has already been made into an acceptable justification in that person's mind. So then they merely have to decide if they're hungry enough.

"Steal" = kill
"Orange" = civilian
"I'm hungry" = they're vital to the military

So here, if we have a military that has decided that "vital to the military" is a valid justification to kill a civilian, then it is not a slippery slope to say that they can conclude at a later date to kill a civilian "because they're vital to the military". I'm not seeing a slope. You can prattle on about "degree", but if the fact that they need to determine if the degree is sufficient shows that they have decided it is an acceptable justification already.

Also, pray tell, what are the "ridiculous" implications? That groups can do things I don't approve of if they stay logically consistent? Quelle horreur!
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby yoni45 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:14 pm UTC

Ghostbear wrote:No, you truly aren't bothering with my full argument (as shown by you repeatedly ignoring my comments about how justification does factor in). You can't just take one sentence and remove it entirely from it's full explanation and prove it wrong...


Um, if that "sentence" is a premise on which your entire argument depends, and I can show that premise to be wrong, then yes -- I can do exactly just that. And I did.

The justification is that a given target is sufficiently vital/important/proximate to the military machine. You're strawmanning that justification to be any form of vital. That's wrong. Your entire argument then falls into a slippery slope -- since one form of "vitality" justifies an action, then any form of "vitality" can justify an action.

Your analogy is otherwise an analogue of your flawed reasoning, but equally fails to deal with the actual argument.

Ghostbear wrote:I have mentioned how degree fits into this several times, please stop ignoring it.


If you did this properly, you wouldn't make the statement: "When you say you can kill a specific civilian because they're vital to the military, then that means you can kill other civilians because they're vital to the military".

If you properly accounted for degree, then that consequent wouldn't necessarily follow, because not all other civilians would be sufficiently vital. Unless by "other civilians" you mean "certain other specific civilians that are as sufficiently vital", which would probably be true -- but not an issue, since your argument is that any civilians can be targeted by this reasoning.

In fact, if you did it properly, your antecedent would take the form of "When you say you can kill a specific civilian because they're sufficiently vital to the military...".

Ghostbear wrote:Also, pray tell, what are the "ridiculous" implications? That groups can do things I don't approve of if they stay logically consistent? Quelle horreur!


I've referenced the relevant 'ridiculous implications' more than once, and did so clearly. The fact that you're not able to discern that part of my argument is concerning.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:28 pm UTC

yedidyak wrote:According to the new Wikileaks stuff, it seems that Israel has already been destroying Iranian nuclear facilities along with Kurdish rebels.

Haaretz
Ynet


An interesting note, apparently some country's intelligence thinks an attack on Iran would only take 48 hours. I would be too surprised if estimates were faster than previously listed on this forum but... 48 hours?

Ghostbear, your argument wasn't "because we can kill a civilian vital to the military we can kill a civilian vital to the military." That's tautological, nobody would contest that. And its also not a problem. Your argument was "because we can kill a civilian vital to the military we can kill any civilian with any vitality to the military" which is a slippery slope.

If you wish to assert that you were merely stating that the implications of our approval of killing nuclear scientists is that other nuclear scientists can be killed, that's fine, but I don't see the problem.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:33 pm UTC

yoni45 wrote:In fact, if you did it properly, your antecedent would take the form of "When you say you can kill a specific civilian because they're sufficiently vital to the military..."


I think the problem is that "sufficiently vital" is entirely subjective, unless you have a very tight definition of sufficiency that you intend to use in this context. The whole purpose of making a hard military/civilian line is precisely to avoid having these sort of subjective judgments come into play.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:47 pm UTC

"Sufficiently vital" isn't entirely subjective. There is gray area, but there is somewhat of a line. Obviously we couldn't kill a construction worker, but I don't see a problem with a person who is directly responsible for a very dangerous weapon. I'd say that if the target is necessary or extremely important to military function and is impossible or very difficult to replace, it's a valid target. If we assume, for the moment, that Israel is justified in stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons (as this is a criticism of their methods rather than their goals), then surely killing one scientist is worth, for example, killing hundreds of workers in a nuclear facility or engaging in a battle or war.

So, barring a slippery slope or other worry about the logical implications of it, does anybody have the problem with an assassination of a nuclear scientist in and of itself?
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:12 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:Obviously we couldn't kill a construction worker.


Why not? This isn't obvious at all. A construction worker could be involved in building bunkers, or factories for weapons, or missile silos, or hangers for aircraft, or roads to transport military hardware, or a variety of other things of extreme military significance. Killing construction workers could be an extremely valuable military objective, particularly if combined with destruction of this sort of infrastructure in the first place. Yes, they're not irreplaceable in the same way that a nuclear scientist is, but why should that be a criteria? I would say that killing construction workers would clearly fall under the "extremely important to military function" category
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby yoni45 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:21 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Yes, they're not irreplaceable in the same way that a nuclear scientist is, but why should that be a criteria? I would say that killing construction workers would clearly fall under the "extremely important to military function" category


Because if they're more replaceable, then they're not as vital.

At the end of the day, you're trying to achieve minimal needless civilian loss of life in the course of military action. If killing a given construction worker doesn't do enough to advance the military objectives to offset the human suffering caused, then it's not a legitimate move.

Yeah, you're going to have plenty of "grey" areas, but that's par for the course when it comes to war. This is effectively the same standard as applies to collateral damage.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:22 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:Obviously we couldn't kill a construction worker.


Why not? This isn't obvious at all. A construction worker could be involved in building bunkers, or factories for weapons, or missile silos, or hangers for aircraft, or roads to transport military hardware, or a variety of other things of extreme military significance. Killing construction workers could be an extremely valuable military objective, particularly if combined with destruction of this sort of infrastructure in the first place. Yes, they're not irreplaceable in the same way that a nuclear scientist is, but why should that be a criteria? I would say that killing construction workers would clearly fall under the "extremely important to military function" category


Read the criteria I listed again. If you have an objection to them, please say so.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:45 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:Obviously we couldn't kill a construction worker.


Why not? This isn't obvious at all. A construction worker could be involved in building bunkers, or factories for weapons, or missile silos, or hangers for aircraft, or roads to transport military hardware, or a variety of other things of extreme military significance. Killing construction workers could be an extremely valuable military objective, particularly if combined with destruction of this sort of infrastructure in the first place. Yes, they're not irreplaceable in the same way that a nuclear scientist is, but why should that be a criteria? I would say that killing construction workers would clearly fall under the "extremely important to military function" category


Read the criteria I listed again. If you have an objection to them, please say so.


As I said, I don't see any reason to value the scarcity of one individual when considering military objectives. You're just tailoring your definition to exactly fit the situation we're describing, but there's no reason that those are the only criteria that could be made to fit, and no reason that somebody has to choose those particular criteria. Again, it's highly subjective.

sourmilk wrote:So, barring a slippery slope or other worry about the logical implications of it, does anybody have the problem with an assassination of a nuclear scientist in and of itself?


Lest you think that because I didn't explicitly respond to this that I don't object, I will just clarify that yes, I consider assassinations in general to be extremely objectionable behaviour, and those responsible should be charged with murder.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby yurell » Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:57 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:I think the problem is that "sufficiently vital" is entirely subjective, unless you have a very tight definition of sufficiency that you intend to use in this context. The whole purpose of making a hard military/civilian line is precisely to avoid having these sort of subjective judgments come into play.


I too think this is where the problem is. If you've not rigorously defined 'sufficient', someone applying what they view as 'sufficient' isn't a slippery slope.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby yoni45 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:01 pm UTC

yurell wrote:I too think this is where the problem is. If you've not rigorously defined 'sufficient', someone applying what they view as 'sufficient' isn't a slippery slope.


I wouldn't say so -- this kind of thing is quite often going to be impossible to define "rigorously", since you'll always have a subjective call on the specific worth of civilian life relative to a military objective.

For example: how do you define the allowable limits of collateral damage?
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby yurell » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:35 pm UTC

My point is that it's not a 'slippery slope' per se once you've defined that 'they're sufficiently vital for the war effort' as sufficient justification for killing civilians.
As for collateral ... I'm not sure what value I'd place on a human life, only that it would be non-linear. From a purely theoretical standpoint, I'd stick to utilitarian ideals, but unfortunately we don't have sufficient information to make those decisions, so I'll avoid making that call until I'm placed in a situation where I have to :P

In the end, everyone will have a different definition of 'sufficiently', but there are some who will hold that 'no amount of strategic benefit is worth assassinating a civilian', in which case the murder of an Iranian scientist to slow down their nuclear power program during peace time would not be justified. I'm not quite that far into absolutes, but I would say what I would allow as 'sufficient' is a lot more strict than that. I can't think of an instance where I'd view murdering a civilian during peace time as acceptable (not saying one doesn't exist, just that I can't think of one).
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby yoni45 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:57 pm UTC

yurell wrote:My point is that it's not a 'slippery slope' per se once you've defined that 'they're sufficiently vital for the war effort' as sufficient justification for killing civilians.
As for collateral ... I'm not sure what value I'd place on a human life, only that it would be non-linear. From a purely theoretical standpoint, I'd stick to utilitarian ideals, but unfortunately we don't have sufficient information to make those decisions, so I'll avoid making that call until I'm placed in a situation where I have to :P


That's my point though: it's near impossible to create a 'rigorous' definition of either of these, and I'm pretty sure entirely impossible to create one that would be possible to actually apply in practice. But that doesn't make misapplication of the general definition any less a 'slippery slope' ("Collateral damage is okay in certain cases of war, so really any civilians can be killed in the name of collateral damage").

yurell wrote:In the end, everyone will have a different definition of 'sufficiently', but there are some who will hold that 'no amount of strategic benefit is worth assassinating a civilian', in which case the murder of an Iranian scientist to slow down their nuclear power program during peace time would not be justified. I'm not quite that far into absolutes, but I would say what I would allow as 'sufficient' is a lot more strict than that. I can't think of an instance where I'd view murdering a civilian during peace time as acceptable (not saying one doesn't exist, just that I can't think of one).


Israeli-Iranian relations are pretty far from "peacetime" -- but when it comes down to it, I can't say that I see scientists of that sort any less a military target than a uniformed soldier. In terms of their contribution to Iran's military, I'd see the scientist a much more 'military' target.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby yurell » Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:29 am UTC

yoni45 wrote:That's my point though: it's near impossible to create a 'rigorous' definition of either of these, and I'm pretty sure entirely impossible to create one that would be possible to actually apply in practice. But that doesn't make misapplication of the general definition any less a 'slippery slope' ("Collateral damage is okay in certain cases of war, so really any civilians can be killed in the name of collateral damage").


I was just addressing the point of what seemed to be confusion ... you initially claimed that being "a vital part of the war machine" (p. 101) was sufficient justification for being a target, and from there it spiralled into an argument since you meant 'sufficiently vital' and Ghostbear read it as 'at all vital' — so while you saw a slippery slope, they saw a simple one-size-fits-all statement they viewed as wrong.

Miscommunications happen, unfortunately. So I'm going to continue under the 'sufficiently vital' meaning, where it's possible that no civilian is 'sufficiently' important for those who believe assassinating civilians is universally wrong.

yoni45 wrote:Israeli-Iranian relations are pretty far from "peacetime" -- but when it comes down to it, I can't say that I see scientists of that sort any less a military target than a uniformed soldier. In terms of their contribution to Iran's military, I'd see the scientist a much more 'military' target.


I meant 'peace-time' as an opposite to 'war-time'. Even though the situation is tense, I can't justify murdering a civilian scientist who may legitimately not be working on a bomb but a power plant. To me, deliberately targeting civilians is unacceptable, and akin to terrorism (although as I said before, I maintain the right to withdraw this should an example be presented that I can't at present think of).
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:33 am UTC

yoni45 wrote:For example: how do you define the allowable limits of collateral damage?


Why do you think any amount of collateral damage would be "allowable"? It might be unavoidable, but that doesn't mean it is acceptable.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby yoni45 » Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:58 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Why do you think any amount of collateral damage would be "allowable"? It might be unavoidable, but that doesn't mean it is acceptable.


If it's an unavoidable aspect of war (which you seem to agree with), then it must be "allowable" unless you disallow countries to engage in war altogether.

yurell wrote:I meant 'peace-time' as an opposite to 'war-time'. Even though the situation is tense, I can't justify murdering a civilian scientist who may legitimately not be working on a bomb but a power plant. To me, deliberately targeting civilians is unacceptable, and akin to terrorism (although as I said before, I maintain the right to withdraw this should an example be presented that I can't at present think of).


Except I don't see a difference between "war-time" and "whatever-is-going-on-right-now-that-isn't-peace-time", at least as regard's any obligations Israel may have in not attacking Iran.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:53 am UTC

yoni45 wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:Why do you think any amount of collateral damage would be "allowable"? It might be unavoidable, but that doesn't mean it is acceptable.


If it's an unavoidable aspect of war (which you seem to agree with), then it must be "allowable" unless you disallow countries to engage in war altogether.


No, I reject that there is a moral justification for civilian casualties. It may happen, but it is never desirable or tolerable when it does, and countries engaging in hostilities should do so with the goal of having no civilian casualties.

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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby yoni45 » Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:05 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:No, I reject that there is a moral justification for civilian casualties. It may happen, but it is never desirable or tolerable when it does, and countries engaging in hostilities should do so with the goal of having no civilian casualties.

Simply because you are not allowed to steal does not mean that there are no thieves.


You're running circles around the point: you said yourself that collateral damage is an unavoidable aspect of war. That means that either countries are not allowed to engage in war, or collateral damage is allowable.

Scenario: terrorist cell is about to launch a not-yet-hot nuclear bomb at Kandahar for having turned to the American side. They're situated directly behind a shop, the keeper of which is unaware of their existence. They're preparing to launch it and the device will be hot within a time frame that only allows enough time for a commander to give the order to launch a missile that will wipe out the cell and the shop, along with (knowingly) the shopkeeper within.

By your reasoning, if the commander gives the command to fire and it goes through as planned, he should be charged and sentenced for a war crime. Is this correct?
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:53 am UTC

yoni45 wrote:By your reasoning, if the commander gives the command to fire and it goes through as planned, he should be charged and sentenced for a war crime. Is this correct?


If the commander is deliberately killing civilians to achieve this goal, yes he should be charged. He should still probably do it, but that doesn't absolve him of responsibility.

[edit] And for the record, I would be quite happy to live in a world where countries did not go to war.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby yoni45 » Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:01 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
yoni45 wrote:By your reasoning, if the commander gives the command to fire and it goes through as planned, he should be charged and sentenced for a war crime. Is this correct?


If the commander is deliberately killing civilians to achieve this goal, yes he should be charged. He should still probably do it, but that doesn't absolve him of responsibility.


Charged and, since there's no question of guilt, sentenced. Minimum sentence of the equivalent of murder, likely at least 25 years. Correct?
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:16 am UTC

yoni45 wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:
yoni45 wrote:By your reasoning, if the commander gives the command to fire and it goes through as planned, he should be charged and sentenced for a war crime. Is this correct?


If the commander is deliberately killing civilians to achieve this goal, yes he should be charged. He should still probably do it, but that doesn't absolve him of responsibility.


Charged and, since there's no question of guilt, sentenced. Minimum sentence of the equivalent of murder, likely at least 25 years. Correct?


Extenuating circumstances would presumably reduce the sentence below that.
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Re: Israel/Palestine discussion

Postby yoni45 » Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:19 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Extenuating circumstances would presumably reduce the sentence below that.


I don't see why they would: there is absolutely no justification for civilian casualties. How many years are we imprisoning him for?
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