t on Mon, 29 Mar 1999 00:28:48 +0200

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Syndicate: Ethical issues: Serb rape camp

I see very little attention to basic ethical issues. Let me give an
example. The idea of "intervention to prevent atrocties" is central to
the current crisis, and also to the closing years of the Bosnian war.
Often there is a utilitarian dialogue, without any further comment. This
is a typical story used to illustrate utilitarian ethics for

...."In Kosovo you (a man) are travelling with a group of journalists:
only one is a woman, an African. The group discovers a rape camp of a
Serbian militia. In the camp, the militia are just about to rape 100
Albanian women. However, since they are bored with raping Albanians, and
have never raped an Afican, they offer to exchange the 100 Albanian
women for the African woman. There is no alternative: you can not rescue
the other women. The militia are not interested in you, so you can not
sacrifice yourself. Would you sacrifice her?"....

Utilitarian ethics says clearly, that one person should be sacrificed to
avoid the suffering of many. So far as I know, ALL claims regarding
humanitarian military intervention, are utilitarian in form. In Somalia,
some western aid organisations executed people, who tried to steal their
food supplies in transit: "execution to save lives". The logic of a
military intervention against atrocities is exactly the same.
Utilitarianism allows a very wide scope: it is also very pervasive. Talk
about "numbers of victims" is typical of utilitarian approaches - see
some of the earlier mail, and the media in general.

My position is simply to reject utilitarainism. In academic ethics, this
rejection is usually in the form of rights-based liberalism, but I do
not suppport that either. (It is just as easy to distort, by inventing
new rights).
Paul Treanor