1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

territory from harm, even if it means killing innocent civilians (after all, were not the children killed

on the Oregon trail innocent? Did they have any say in their parents' actions?)? One can argue that

the United States, in firing missiles at Iraq, is keeping the natural order by not allowing Iraq to

develop weapons of mass destruction and keeping American soil sovereign. What people are going

to die for is not a culturally valued substance like gold, with no intrinsic natural value, but the

safety and existence of a community, of a large tribe called the United States. It may be that, as we

are helpless and can't have all the answers, we need a vision to advise us as to what should be

done about firing missiles at Iraq. But even then we must be able to properly interpret the vision.

According to Black Elk, it is only in retrospect that we can know if our actions were right.

The critical moral issue we are dealing with is whether or not we can place a market value

on human life. The official utilitarian rationale of the United States government does place a market

value on human life. But do we want this and is this moral? (For Dostoyevsky, the answer would

clearly be no, it is for God to pass value on human life. Black Elk has amore ambiguous reply in

that we can come up with several possible answers.) I have come to believe thatit would be

immoral to sacrifice ten thousand innocent lives in order to bring about the compliance of the Iraqi

government with UN resolutions. Kant (as any philosopher must first be a Kantian!) makes the

best argument for the absolute value of man without requiring a religious grounding. Kant wrote:

"Now morality is the condition under which alone a rational being can be an end in himself, for

only thereby can he be a legislating member in the kingdom of ends" (Kant 1993, pg. 40) In other

words, since morality is a set of promises between men (and women) in order to ensure their

survival by creating constraints on human behavior, we can say that man is an end in himself; the

survival of the individual in a group is the end. If we are to treat men otherwise, as a means to an

end, we must make that a categorical imperative and we must treat it as if that action will be a

universal law of nature. By doing so we can know if it is moral. The consequence of treating man

as a means would be that no individual could ensure his survival, as he would only have a market

value and the eventual result of this would be harm to all of humanity. But the purpose of morality

is the opposite. It is not to fulfill the self-serving needs of an individual or group but rather to serve

humanity as a whole by ensuring its survival (not altruistically but by creating a set of objective

laws to live by). Hence, to do harm to others, to place a market value on man, would be immoral

since it would harm humanity. Likewise, it is immoral for the United States to sacrifice ten

thousand lives in hope of saving more, for then you are placing a value on the lives of Iraqi