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Brian Lande Phil 105-02 Paper #3

Of the Absolute Value of Man and Moral Accountability

Morality depends on the ability of an individual to chose between good and evil, thus,

entailing freedom of the will and the moral responsibility of the individual for his actions. It is

obvious this is so for the individual, but what about groups and governments? Do they have the

ability to choose between good and evil, do they have free will and therefore are they subject to the

same paradigms of morality as the individual or does an autonomous morality apply. Reversed, are

the actions of a group or government decided by omnipotent deities, fate, or algebraic equations?

Niccolo Machiavelli wrote of governments that "None the less, so as not to rule out our free will, I

believe that it is probably true that fortune is the arbiter of half the things we do, leaving the other

half or so to be controlled by ourselves." Machiavelli illustrates that governments do have control

over their actions; that the decisions made by government are not willed by a divine being or fate,

but that government is responsible for the decisions it makes in regard to the lives their actions will

affect. Furthermore governments are being held to the same moral paradigms and accountability for

its actions as the individual. What if we relate this concept of morality to a present day moral

dilemma? Should the United States government fire cruise missiles at Baghdad in order to force the

government of Iraq to comply with UN resolutions concerning weapons inspection even if the

consequence of dispatching missiles would be ten thousand civilian causalities? What are the moral

questions that we must ask? But also, as we are members of a representative democracy, do I/we

as citizens bear any of the responsibility of our government's actions? Am I responsible for the

government I choose?

Since it is the actions of a governments we wish to question the morality of, we must

know what the present justification for or against the launch of cruise missiles at Baghdad is and

what the

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