On this 73rd anniversary of Hiroshima, visit the @PublicDiscourse archives for debates exploring the ramifications of Truman’s decision.
When another’s ethical approach seems ambiguous, we should charitably presuppose its most orthodox interpretation.
For example, some defenders of the 1945 atomic bombings refer to a “psychotic Japanese civilian resistance” or a kind of “national kamikaze campaign.”
They thereby propose, even if implicitly, that we best reconceive multitudes of ostensible noncombatants as material non-innocents, i.e. not immune from direct targeting.
Such a reconception might well betray an implicit deontological calculus, which, even if inchoate, could rescue their proportionate reasoning from the encroachment of an insidious & vulgar consequentialism.
And this could properly relocate a moral impasse from meta-ethical to other concerns, e.g. evidential, prudential & semantical.
For example, how might we make sometimes facile criteria for distinguishing material [non]innocents much more robust, i.e. semantically coherent, empirically discernable, anthropologically defensible?
These are relevant questions – not only for nuclear, but- modern conventional war & asymmetric terrorism. They extend beyond warfare to all life issues (regarding legitimate self-defense).
So, I offer here no critique or answers to the various stances – only a few of my own questions regarding the proper location of various impasses.