View Poll Results: Ethics in Government? Who's?

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  • Do you think ethics in government should be representative of the voters ethics?

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  • Do you think government ethics should be different than the voters personal ethics?

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Thread: Ethics in Government, Should there be any? Who's should they be?

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    Re: Ethics in Government, Should there be any? Who's should they be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    Happens all the time. All the unethical government has to do is play off people's fear and withhold intelligence that shows the stated threat is not borne out by the facts.
    I’m sure there are additional ways to convince people to support a war that they would otherwise not support.
    I didn’t say it had to be a good reason, or a valid one. I said a reason.

    Most citizens of the USA (I would like to think) wouldn’t support a war just for the sake of going to war.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    Agreed.
    Excellent.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    Define enemy please. What if the only threat to you the "enemy" represents is blocking your access to their property.
    The term “enemy” can’t be defined specifically, unless a specific instance is used. Even then, it would be hard…There are too many possible reasons.

    However:
    Enemy - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary
    1 : one that is antagonistic to another; especially : one seeking to injure, overthrow, or confound an opponent
    2 : something harmful or deadly <alcohol was his greatest enemy>
    3 a : a military adversary b : a hostile unit or force
    In this case, I would define an enemy as an entity that presents an unacceptable threat to that which you must protect, which in the case of the US government is the USA itself.

    Of course, then you would have to define an “unacceptable threat” and “must protect”.
    That is up to the officials who are elected to do so. And their views probably differ at least slightly from my own, for various reasons.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    Please clarify what you mean in the item I emphasized above.
    I believe I did, as far as possible, let me know if I did not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    What type of threat you would teach your children to take preemptive violent action against?
    I believe I already said that I wouldn’t. Or perhaps I only implied such. Either way, there is a difference between what you teach your children to do/not do, and what actions a nation takes to defend itself.

    As an example of a preemptive action situation, suppose you were in charge of the military defense of the USA, and you had received strong intelligence that Mexico was planning to launch a full-scale invasion of Texas.
    Assume that Mexico had a comparable military strength available in that area.
    Obviously, diplomatic actions would be attempted to stop this.
    But if diplomatic means failed, or intelligence that Mexico was moving ahead with invasion plans, and using the diplomatic discussions as a cover, came into your possession, what would you do?

    Wait too long, believing that Mexico would back down, and you might have enemy troops in Texas.
    Move too soon, believing that Mexico would not back down, and you would have attacked a neighbor of the USA.

    Now, obviously, this situation is highly unlikely, and would depend on many not currently in place situations and conditions to actually come to pass…But you get the idea…

    The problem with intelligence is, you can only extremely rarely be 100%, or even 90% sure about something.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    Please explain further.
    Well ,suppose another country produced X export good at cost Y. Your country also produced X export good, but at cost Y*2. Obviously, depending on location, transport costs, and import fees in the target consumer areas, your export goods would be less popular, despite the identical quality.
    Thus, you would receive less income from the exportation of said good because of the other countries production of said good at a lower cost.

    Economic threat.

    Not enough of one to warrant an invasion/attack on the other country in my book, but my book isn't necessarily the book in use.

    This was a somewhat simplified example, but you get the idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    That sounds like all other governments should be complimentary of ours or be subject to war. But that's probably not what you meant so please explain further.
    Not at all what I meant. And I wasn’t referring to the US, necessarily.

    Suppose a country’s system of government was a dictatorship. Said dictatorship could control the press and many other aspects of information transfer to their population, but not 100%, and ideas/info from outside the dictatorship leaked into the population, causing them to become restless, due to observation of better conditions of freedom/whatever in another state with a different government system.

    Political threat.

    If dictatorship is sufficiently powerful, options include military subjugation of state with government system casting negative light on dictatorship.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    What if they blocked access to their property which you are dependent on to sustain your economy?
    If you consider that a threat, then they are a threat to you.

    I said: “…If an opponent poses no threat whatsoever, I wouldn’t see the point in attacking them. Unless you are trying to build an empire, and just want their stuff. But that’s another discussion entirely.”
    Last edited by The Mark; 02-20-10 at 08:05 PM.
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    Re: Ethics in Government, Should there be any? Who's should they be?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Mark View Post
    I’m sure there are additional ways to convince people to support a war that they would otherwise not support.
    I haven't observed any other ways used in my lifetime.


    I didn’t say it had to be a good reason, or a valid one. I said a reason.
    I see.

    Most citizens of the USA (I would like to think) wouldn’t support a war just for the sake of going to war.
    I did not make a claim they would.


    The term “enemy” can’t be defined specifically, unless a specific instance is used. Even then, it would be hard…There are too many possible reasons.

    However:
    Enemy - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary
    All of those definitions imply the capacity to carry out a threat.

    In this case, I would define an enemy as an entity that presents an unacceptable threat to that which you must protect, which in the case of the US government is the USA itself.
    Agreed.

    Of course, then you would have to define an “unacceptable threat” and “must protect”.
    That is up to the officials who are elected to do so. And their views probably differ at least slightly from my own, for various reasons.
    The standard through most our history has been if we were attacked or our allies were attacked.

    I believe I already said that I wouldn’t. Or perhaps I only implied such. Either way, there is a difference between what you teach your children to do/not do, and what actions a nation takes to defend itself.
    That is precisely the subject I wanted to explore with this thread. The distinction between our personal ethics and what we approve our government doing in our name and why.

    As an example of a preemptive action situation, suppose you were in charge of the military defense of the USA, and you had received strong intelligence that Mexico was planning to launch a full-scale invasion of Texas.
    Assume that Mexico had a comparable military strength available in that area.
    Obviously, diplomatic actions would be attempted to stop this.
    But if diplomatic means failed, or intelligence that Mexico was moving ahead with invasion plans, and using the diplomatic discussions as a cover, came into your possession, what would you do?

    Wait too long, believing that Mexico would back down, and you might have enemy troops in Texas.
    Move too soon, believing that Mexico would not back down, and you would have attacked a neighbor of the USA.
    In real life we can't just assume others have comparable military strength.

    Now, obviously, this situation is highly unlikely, and would depend on many not currently in place situations and conditions to actually come to pass…But you get the idea…

    The problem with intelligence is, you can only extremely rarely be 100%, or even 90% sure about something.
    Exactly why our historical standard has been to wait until we or our allies were actually attacked.

    Well ,suppose another country produced X export good at cost Y. Your country also produced X export good, but at cost Y*2. Obviously, depending on location, transport costs, and import fees in the target consumer areas, your export goods would be less popular, despite the identical quality.
    Thus, you would receive less income from the exportation of said good because of the other countries production of said good at a lower cost.

    Economic threat.

    Not enough of one to warrant an invasion/attack on the other country in my book, but my book isn't necessarily the book in use.
    It wouldn't warrant an invasion/attack in anyone's book that was ethical. That is my point. Why you anyone accept that as a reason for war by their government, yet wouldn't consider it ethical to attack a competitor in our own country?

    Suppose a country’s system of government was a dictatorship. Said dictatorship could control the press and many other aspects of information transfer to their population, but not 100%, and ideas/info from outside the dictatorship leaked into the population, causing them to become restless, due to observation of better conditions of freedom/whatever in another state with a different government system.

    Political threat.

    If dictatorship is sufficiently powerful, options include military subjugation of state with government system casting negative light on dictatorship.

    If you consider that a threat, then they are a threat to you.
    Political threat to what? Your ideals? If you believe a particular party in this country is a threat to your ideals, does that provide ethical justification to commit violence against that party?

    What makes the difference on a governmental level?
    Last edited by Catawba; 02-20-10 at 10:38 PM.
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    Re: Ethics in Government, Should there be any? Who's should they be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    I haven't observed any other ways used in my lifetime.
    Human lifetimes are short. Thus we record history in order that future generations may learn from it. This doesn't always work. That said, it apparently hasn't worked for me either, as I can't offhand come up with any other methods.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    All of those definitions imply the capacity to carry out a threat.
    Which statement relies on how "a threat", and "the capacity to carry out" are defined.

    I could define farting as a threat to my sense of smell, or something...but would it really be a "threat"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    Agreed.
    Excellent.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    The standard through most our history has been if we were attacked or our allies were attacked.
    For the USA at least, that is the case. But how the governing bodies in question define "attacked" comes into play as well. Many of the past conflicts we have been involved in were at one point (at least by some) considered to fall inside that limitation. Or outside, depending on who you asked.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    That is precisely the subject I wanted to explore with this thread. The distinction between our personal ethics and what we approve our government doing in our name and why.
    Well, the ultimate goal, I would think, would be avoiding actions that harm the country, and pursuing actions that help it.

    The problem is that almost all actions in these times (and perhaps any other, just more noticeable in these interconnected times) have at least two, and perhaps many more, consequences, many of them both negative and positive.
    If a country tried to avoid all actions with negative results, they would do almost nothing.
    Conversely, if they tried to (for some unknown reason) avoid all actions with positive results, the same would occur.

    So, really, it would seem that in international relations (as with any, really), a middle ground must be attempted. Some actions will fall to one side or the other, but a good foreign policy would seem to be one that balanced the two as best it could. That said, certain basic policies that uphold the principles of the country in question might need followed, despite any negative results. I believe one is the (I think) policy of not negotiating with terrorists. Or at least not with any intention of agreeing to their demands. Simply as a time-gaining method, perhaps. You get the idea.
    For that matter, sticking to your principles in itself might be viewed as a positive by some.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    In real life we can't just assume others have comparable military strength.
    I was assuming such for purposes of my specific hypothetical argument in this case.
    Obviously, the described situation is nowhere near to being reality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    Exactly why our historical standard has been to wait until we or our allies were actually attacked.
    See response to this several responses up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    It wouldn't warrant an invasion/attack in anyone's book that was ethical. That is my point. Why you anyone accept that as a reason for war by their government, yet wouldn't consider it ethical to attack a competitor in our own country?
    Some would consider it ethical. Those you would probably consider to be without ethics, of course, but that in itself is a type of ethics…Or perhaps the lack thereof is a form of ethics, in a twisted way?

    /shrug

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    Political threat to what? Your ideals? If you believe a particular party in this country is a threat to your ideals, does that provide ethical justification to commit violence against that party?

    What makes the difference on a governmental level?
    I was not referring to it as a good reason. I was simply pointing out that it could be a reason.

    And in my hypothetical example, it would be a threat to the governing body in question (dictatorship) through a weakening of its hold over its population.

    And I wasn’t specifically referring to the US either.

    But using your more specific example, no.

    It is not in my book ethical to commit violence against a particular party because they are a threat to your ideals. If their ideals lead them into illegal actions, they should face consequences for doing such. Here, of course, we could get into an entirely separate argument as to which laws currently are ethical and which are not, etc, etc.

    That said, if you stand by and wait for the police while said particular party kills tourists that are visiting your town, simply because they disagree with those tourist’s ideals…well, I would probably want to step in somehow. I’d probably die, though…

    Never been in such a situation, so I don’t know how I’d react. Probably hide first off.

    But I’m getting a bit off topic.
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    Re: Ethics in Government, Should there be any? Who's should they be?

    [quote=The Mark;1058575992]

    Which statement relies on how "a threat", and "the capacity to carry out" are defined.
    All of them, otherwise they are not a true threat.

    I could define farting as a threat to my sense of smell, or something...but would it really be a "threat"?
    Exactly my point.


    For the USA at least, that is the case.
    That is what I was speaking about.

    Well, the ultimate goal, I would think, would be avoiding actions that harm the country, and pursuing actions that help it.
    Within an ethical frame work.

    The problem is that almost all actions in these times (and perhaps any other, just more noticeable in these interconnected times) have at least two, and perhaps many more, consequences, many of them both negative and positive.
    Just as in my personal life, I do not excuse immoral behavior to gain a desired end result that is beneficial to finances.

    If a country tried to avoid all actions with negative results, they would do almost nothing.
    If morals (or ethics if you prefer) are ignored, then we have no high ground to accuse others of immoral acts, and we have no credibility if we try to claim moral high ground.

    Conversely, if they tried to (for some unknown reason) avoid all actions with positive results, the same would occur.
    Don't know what your point is there.

    So, really, it would seem that in international relations (as with any, really), a middle ground must be attempted. Some actions will fall to one side or the other, but a good foreign policy would seem to be one that balanced the two as best it could. That said, certain basic policies that uphold the principles of the country in question might need followed, despite any negative results. I believe one is the (I think) policy of not negotiating with terrorists. Or at least not with any intention of agreeing to their demands. Simply as a time-gaining method, perhaps. You get the idea.
    For that matter, sticking to your principles in itself might be viewed as a positive by some.
    If I invade your house even though you are no threat me (I just need the stuff from your house to fill up my house), and you strike back in a terrorist fashion, I have no ethical reasons to negotiate with you?

    I was not referring to it as a good reason. I was simply pointing out that it could be a reason.
    But not an ethical reason.

    And in my hypothetical example, it would be a threat to the governing body in question (dictatorship) through a weakening of its hold over its population.
    No our job, especially if we supported that tyrant when his hold was more powerful and more murderous.


    It is not in my book ethical to commit violence against a particular party because they are a threat to your ideals. If their ideals lead them into illegal actions, they should face consequences for doing such.
    Agreed.

    Here, of course, we could get into an entirely separate argument as to which laws currently are ethical and which are not, etc, etc.
    As far as war goes, I see no problem with the standard shown by most of our country's history, and our personal ethics, where we only commit violence to defend our ourselves from attack.
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    Re: Ethics in Government, Should there be any? Who's should they be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    All of them, otherwise they are not a true threat.

    I was trying to say that depending on how someone defines "a threat" and "the capacity to carry out" directly effects what they view as an enemy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    Exactly my point.
    See above.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    That is what I was speaking about.
    But I was not. I was speaking in a more general way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    Within an ethical frame work.
    Well, obviously. But you have to define that ethical framework before you can use it.
    And would you allow any exceptions, depending on extreme circumstances?
    Also part of said framework.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    Just as in my personal life, I do not excuse immoral behavior to gain a desired end result that is beneficial to finances.

    Not at all sure what you were responding too here, as I don't recall speaking of any specific loss/gain.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    If morals (or ethics if you prefer) are ignored, then we have no high ground to accuse others of immoral acts, and we have no credibility if we try to claim moral high ground.
    Again, not really sure what you are responding too...

    I was attempting to say that, if a person, a group, or a nation attempts to avoid all negative consequences, they would not be able to do anything. In fact, just the act of doing nothing would have negative consequences.
    No matter what you do, someone is going to dislike you for it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    Don't know what your point is there.
    Simply attempting to show contrast to the previous point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    If I invade your house even though you are no threat me (I just need the stuff from your house to fill up my house), and you strike back in a terrorist fashion, I have no ethical reasons to negotiate with you?
    See, that situation would fall in the vast gray area that surrounds the tiny black and white dots.

    In that specific case, I would say that we would both be wrong. There are legal procedures which would be far more reasonable to pursue.

    If you invaded my house, it would be home invasion, and I would be perfectly within my rights to kill your ass, if you were still in my house.

    If you had already left (with some of my stuff, or leaving damage to my property behind), and I was sure it was you, then calling the police would be my best option.

    Terroristic actions in an attempt to use fear as a means of forcing you to return my stuff would be a bad idea, as you could then call the police on me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    But not an ethical reason.
    Depends on what ethical framework you use.

    Not your ethics, perhaps, or mine...But someone’s.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    No our job, especially if we supported that tyrant when his hold was more powerful and more murderous.
    Who is "our" in this case?

    I get the distinct impression that you are speaking of the recent and ongoing issues in Iraq...And not about "ethics" in a more general manner, as I am attempting too.

    In this case, I was referring to a hypothetical entity, a nation ruled by a dictator. I was laying out some issues that he/she might have with another nation with differing government style.
    That is all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    Agreed.
    Excellent.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    As far as war goes, I see no problem with the standard shown by most of our country's history, and our personal ethics, where we only commit violence to defend our ourselves from attack.
    Makes sense to me.

    Of course, we then have to define "commit violence" and "defend ourselves from attack".
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    Re: Ethics in Government, Should there be any? Who's should they be?

    Originally Posted by Catawba -
    "As far as war goes, I see no problem with the standard shown by most of our country's history, and our personal ethics, where we only commit violence to defend our ourselves from attack."

    Quote Originally Posted by The Mark View Post
    Makes sense to me.

    Of course, we then have to define "commit violence" and "defend ourselves from attack".
    As far as war goes, as I prefaced with above, committing violence would be going to war with invasion/occupation. Defending ourselves from attack seems self explanatory. Just as with our personal ethics, we can justify a defense from a physical attack on us, we can justify going to war against a physical attack on us.
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    Re: Ethics in Government, Should there be any? Who's should they be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    Originally Posted by Catawba -
    "As far as war goes, I see no problem with the standard shown by most of our country's history, and our personal ethics, where we only commit violence to defend our ourselves from attack."

    As far as war goes, as I prefaced with above, committing violence would be going to war with invasion/occupation. Defending ourselves from attack seems self explanatory. Just as with our personal ethics, we can justify a defense from a physical attack on us, we can justify going to war against a physical attack on us.
    Well, in my mind, "commit violence" could have multiple meanings, depending on what type of "violence" you were referring to, physical, emotional, mental, or otherwise, and depending on how you defined "commit".

    "Defend ourselves from attack", I agree, has less available meanings.

    However, I was actually focusing more on what type of attack we were defending against. Depending on who was making the decisions, something you or I would not term an "attack" might be considered one.

    Now, obviously, through our votes, we control who makes those decisions…

    But once they are elected, we don’t really have much direct control over them.
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    Re: Ethics in Government, Should there be any? Who's should they be?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Mark View Post
    Well, in my mind, "commit violence" could have multiple meanings, depending on what type of "violence" you were referring to, physical, emotional, mental, or otherwise, and depending on how you defined "commit".
    It warfare, which is what we were speaking about, it means when you attack another country with your military.
    "Defend ourselves from attack", I agree, has less available meanings.

    However, I was actually focusing more on what type of attack we were defending against. Depending on who was making the decisions, something you or I would not term an "attack" might be considered one.
    In an ethical framework, attack on a country by our representative (the government) would mean the same as it does under our personal ethics for defending against an attack on our person.
    Now, obviously, through our votes, we control who makes those decisions…
    I agree generally, but if many voters have different expectations for their governments ethics than they do for personal ethics you can have the situation we have today.

    But once they are elected, we don’t really have much direct control over them.
    I would disagree based on history. An ethical stand by the people brought about the end to the unethical war against Vietnam.
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    Re: Ethics in Government, Should there be any? Who's should they be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    In warfare, which is what we were speaking about, it means when you attack another country with your military.
    I thought we were speaking about "threats" and "enemies", not the far more specific "war". Direct physical violence is not the only possible threat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    In an ethical framework, attack on a country by our representative (the government) would mean the same as it does under our personal ethics for defending against an attack on our person.
    Assuming the same ethical framework is used in both cases...Not precisely, although it would be very close.

    Assume you are in the position of leadership (or the chief among such) in a country.
    When you are dealing with an entire country worth of people instead of just yourself, different responses must be made.

    For example: If, as an individual, you would respond to a attempted strike at your face with a fist or other object by unleashing multiple blows with fists or other objects upon the opponent.
    Would you then, as a national leader, respond to an attempted strike on your capital with multiple strikes against the one who attempted such?
    Or would you gauge the situation, plan a response, and then carry it out?

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    I agree generally, but if many voters have different expectations for their governments ethics than they do for personal ethics you can have the situation we have today.
    I'm not sure anyone really expects government ethics anymore...

    Quote Originally Posted by Catawba View Post
    I would disagree based on history. An ethical stand by the people brought about the end to the unethical war against Vietnam.
    That was an indirect control, through political pressure on the leadership.

    And don't forget, it was couched as part of an ethical stand against communisim by the leadership, originally, if my memory of the history is correct.

    Did the ethical framework change?

    Or was the original ethical stand not actually an ethical one, only seen as such by we flawed beings?
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    Re: Ethics in Government, Should there be any? Who's should they be?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Mark View Post

    Assume you are in the position of leadership (or the chief among such) in a country.
    When you are dealing with an entire country worth of people instead of just yourself, different responses must be made.
    Yes, it means if any of your people are attacked, defensive action is justified.

    For example: If, as an individual, you would respond to a attempted strike at your face with a fist or other object by unleashing multiple blows with fists or other objects upon the opponent.
    Would you then, as a national leader, respond to an attempted strike on your capital with multiple strikes against the one who attempted such?

    Or would you gauge the situation, plan a response, and then carry it out?
    Both responses are contingent on the ethical determination as to whether there were an attempted strike.

    I'm not sure anyone really expects government ethics anymore...
    Then we have no right to expect other governments to act ethically.

    That was an indirect control, through political pressure on the leadership.
    And that political pressure was an ethical response to unethical actions of the government (our representatives).



    [quote]
    And don't forget, it was couched as part of an ethical stand against communisim by the leadership, originally, if my memory of the history is correct.

    Did the ethical framework change?

    Or was the original ethical stand not actually an ethical one, only seen as such by we flawed beings?
    Ethical considerations do not justify attack on one because of their ideals.
    Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children. ~ Ancient American Indian Proverb

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