The Moral Status of a War


As the last of the United States’ armed forces withdraw from their prolonged engagement in Iraq, an observer can pause to reflect and consider the moral status of this conflict. Two recent experiences – incredibly trivial though they may be – inform my analysis. Firstly, I happened to chance upon In the Valley of Elah (a 2007 film whose story aims to highlight some of the terrible psychological effects that can result from throwing young individuals into such a conflict) the other day, and I found it quite compelling. Secondly, in a recent philosophy seminar that I was overseeing, a student attempted to raise the war in Iraq as an example that might offer support for a more general point about the validity of a consequentialist justification in moral reasoning; at the time I didn’t have any knowledge of the numbers involved, so I couldn’t say much about the nature of the example as regards a strictly consequentialist calculation. Due to my role, I felt compelled to stay silent at the time, and it left me frustrated.


I shall elaborate upon this second instance first. The war in Iraq was mentioned because – so the student asserted – America’s action was a reaction to 9/11, Continue reading “The Moral Status of a War”


Interview: What Is Nanotechnology and Why Does It Matter?

We recently interviewed Fritz Allhoff, co-author (along with Patrick Lin and nanoscientist Daniel Moore) of What Is Nanotechnology and Why Does It Matter?: From Science to Ethics. Fritz talks about his motivations for writing, and the unique approach of the book.

Philosopher’s Eye: Why did you decide to write What Is Nanotechnology…?

Fritz Allhoff: Back in 2004, my colleague Patrick (Pat) Lin and I started, a non-partisan group that provided a forum for social and ethical implications of nanotechnology. Our previous work had been in applied ethics—particularly the ethics of emerging technologies—and nanotechnology was beginning to draw a lot of attention. We got funding from the US National Science Foundation for some of our work, and this monograph emerged from that grant.

PE: What makes this area interesting to you? Continue reading “Interview: What Is Nanotechnology and Why Does It Matter?”