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an intruder with a gun in your home out of self defense. Clearly, in these two situations Common
Law allows for murder out of self defense when it is clear that your life in danger. It is not clear
that killing ten thousand Iraqi civilians would stop Saddam Hussein from using weapons of mass
destruction, nor whether the Iraqi government intends to use such weapons. Thus, it could be a
clear mistake to chance the death of ten thousand individuals.
government does. This too, like Black Elk on the missile scenario, is ambiguous. We can come up
with many possible arguments of which we may never be able to tell which is right unless we have
a retrospective view as Black would need. Dostoyevsky believes we are free to make our own
choices and as such we are responsible for our actions. Similarly, Black Elk gives full
responsibility to the individual for his actions, such as failure to interpret dreams. However, I am
not inclined to believe that either philosopher would think the individual is fully responsible for the
actions of his government so long as they do not participate in the government's decision-making
process. There are those that could argue, if we say that
responsible for their government's actions, that the ten thousand Iraqi's that would be killed by a
missile strike warrant it, as they stepped outside the moral circle by allowing Saddam to remain in
power--that is they left the kingdom of ends by breaking their promise to treat others humanly by
allowing an inhumane leader to remain in power, and hence are responsible for the actions of
government. Inversely, we can say that the actions of Saddam in Iraq are decided solely by
Saddam Hussein and that Iraqi civilians have no responsibility for his actions as Saddam keeps,
through coercion, opposition to his power silenced and makes revolt impossible.
officials, I can not know their hidden agendas and human response to events in the future.
Furthermore, if I am a pacifist and vote for only pacifist government officials, but the rest of the
nation votes into power government officials who opt for missile strikes when diplomacy fails, I
can not be held responsible. One might argue that it is my duty to convince others that their beliefs
were misguided. But to do that supposes that people are rational and will listen to a rational
argument instead of to their own personal beliefs and to politicians who sound good and this is
ludicrous. Story is more powerful than argument. The fact is that I can not convince the majority of
Americans to follow my lead, as man is not rational and I do not have the economic or political
clout to make my ideals publicly known except in the small circle of family and friends.