Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

TOK presentation help- Is collateral damage in war morally justifiable?

Recommended Posts

Hey people, I am doing my TOK final presentation on the topic "is collateral damage in war morally justifiable?". I have identified three knowledge issues.

1) How to we know the acceptable amount of collateral damage?

like in some cases people say 3 civilian deaths on bombing is better than 300 deaths. but how can we establish this limit? like is 4 deaths accepatable or 5 deaths acceptable... so on

2) On what grounds is a war just?

like there is this geneva treaty underling regulations that parties at war should abide with. But can we really call something as "just war".

3) Who is morally responsible for colllatoral damage?

like for example if a terrorist group builds a camp next to a school and government air raid demolishes both the school as well as the camp, killing few hundred children. So who is at fault, the the government who carried out the air raid or the terrorists who built the camp at the first place.

haha i wud really appreciate if u could tell me what u feel about the points I have made above. Thanks alot :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, we haven't done much about ethics yet, but something that my teacher told us was that KI are not subject specific. Suppose ethics is a bit different though.

I think that the question about to what extent it can be acceptable sounds interesting, but it assumes that collateral damage can be acceptable, so you have to get there first.

Then maybe the question about whether war can be justifiable at all is better, even though it's broad. I don't know really what the difference between philosophy and ToK is when it comes to ethics, but if I would done that as a philosophy exercise, I would have narrowed it down by choosing two etchial codes, possibly the categorical imperative and utilitarianism.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hey Tilia, thanks for the comments. I thought of using three ethical codes; Kant, utilitaianism and ethical relativism. Though ethical relativism, does not help us much, I thought it can improve the analysis of the presentation. Thanks again for your comments :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You just have to be careful not to exceed the time limit on this one, as you seem to have picked a very big and endlessly discussable topic, and they do deduct marks if you go over the time!

Anyway the way I'd approach doing this is to get Areas of Knowledge and Ways of Knowing all tied into your presentation from the beginning. For instance, for...

1) How to we know the acceptable amount of collateral damage?

You can explore it from the different ways of knowing - for instance emotionally we would say that any collateral damage is wrong, that in terms of sense/perception we might recognise that it is inevitable (but can that be used as justification?), in terms of reason we can figure it out as acceptable (there's actually some interesting piece of research I heard about once which you might be able to find, but it's that we prefer to save community-sized percentages over actual number of people, so if given the choice between saving 20% of 100 people or 10% of 1,000 people, we actually pick to save the 20% because 100 is a more comfortable number for us in terms of our own communities, and because it seems larger). That kind of thing would, I imagine, fill up quite a lot of your 15 minutes.

We never really did ethics in our TOK lessons, but your questions seem to me more Philosophy than TOK - then again like I say, we never did ethics! Just don't forget to bring in areas of knowledge and ways of knowing to whatever it is you do as quite a central theme, as those get you the brownie points :D

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey there (I hope this isn't coming too late - and btw, your topic kind of reminds me of a band called Muse haha),

Okay, first of all I would change the title to something like 'to what extent is collateral damage in war morally justifiable?' as it seems that is what you will be addressing. The issues you've raised are very interesting, especially the first one. There's a quote by Joseph Stalin that says "One death is a tragedy, a million is just statistics". Basically, the question is: where does the tragedy end and statistics kick in? It's obviously very difficult to tell. First of all, 'tragedy' is a very relative term and it relates a lot to emotion and perception. I'd find it suitable to refer to History to address this issue: for example, in the World Wars a lot of people died. Of course this was a tragedy, especially to the people close to the victims, but now we kind of see it more as 'numbers'. Sure, we think 'wow, that's terrible', but we don't FEEL it as tragic. Collateral damage is basically inevitable when a war takes place, but to define it as morally acceptable (or not) we would have to refer to every individual related to the issue. As you mentioned, there are the so-called just wars, but that's a term that in itself carries a lot of implications: the just war theory is very 'complex' in the sense that it involves a lot of considerations. Of course, 'just war' is also a very relative term. Collateral damage will still take place, but if we are to define to what level this is acceptable, we would have to look at the causes of such war and its conditions: if the cause is just, if there was no other option, if it's the only way to succeed, if it's the best for all... it's all depends on a lot of factors. As to who is morally responsible for the damage, it's evidently also relative. Truth is, no one can be held for ALL the responsibility, but the 'percentage' of each participant's responsibility is very difficult to determine.

Hopefully this will help. Good luck!

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.