Interviews are one of the best methods that one can have a better understanding of the opinions and viewpoints of an individual on a variety of issues. Many people find it enjoyable to take part in an interview especially if they have an opinion and perceived knowledge regarding a particular topic. I decided to interview my father, John Adams since he has significant viewpoints regarding the topic of war. He is a son of a war veteran and has grown up in South California. He went to Utah high school and later to the University of California. His level of education and family background has played a critical role in making him have a wide range of opinions regarding different social and moral issues. The paper will show how John Adams uses the moral theories of consequentialism, virtue theory, and deontology as well as the fallacy of hasty generalization in answering the interview questions on the war.
The first question I asked in the interview was ‘is there ever a good reason to go to war, why or why not?’ He posed for a moment and then began stating his answer. ‘There are different good reasons that countries can go to war at any time. It is important to note that war is the precipitation of a variety of issues that go unresolved through diplomatic means. As a result, the only method that can be applied to end any differences that have not been resolved through other methods is war. In most cases, the fight against an evil regime and bad governance as well as the fight against terrorism and terrorist sympathizers has been the good reason that countries have had to go to war. Such are good reasons to go to war since the results help in making the world a better place. For instance, if war is to ensure evil leaders are removed from their positions, the citizens enjoy better leadership and as a result an improvement of their lifestyles. Moreover, since terrorism has been a global issue, going to war to deal with terrorists is for the good of the universe.’ Adams provided a compelling answer on the good reasons of going to war. He uses the consequentialism theory to elaborate his answer. The theory focuses on the cost-benefit analysis of the actions of individuals or the society at large. When the good consequences are greater than the bad ones, the actions are morally proper (Driver 12). In his explanation, Adams points out that the reason for going to war is to make the world a better place for as many people as possible. Removing an evil leader from their position through war would have significant benefits to many citizens in the respective countries going to war. As a result, it is evident that war would have a good impact on a majority of individuals. The consequentialism theory is critical in justifying the reasons for going to war and the extent it would be beneficial. The example Adams provides on terrorism also is vital in explaining the good reasons for engaging in war at times.
After the intense first answer, I asked Adams whether there should be rules to war and the reasons he thinks that way. In response, he argued ‘Any war must have rules in an attempt to reduce the negative impact it may have on individuals that are not actively taking part. The major reason that rules in war are important is to reduce suffering, save lives, and maintain some level of humanity during an armed conflict. The rules of war are universal; hence, they have a significant impact on the lives of civilians that are not equipped to be active participants of the war. Civilians need protection in the case of war since they are always helpless and in need. Moreover, the rules of war are vital since they outline that the medical vehicles and workers as well as individuals providing humanitarian aid are not supposed to be attacked under any circumstance. It is an aspect that ensures people that are wounded as a result of the war are catered for and get the necessary medical and aid services needed. The rules in war also play a major role in ensuring that people remain humane and focus on the rights of human beings as well as avoiding unnecessary suffering.’ From Adam’s point of view, it is vital to have rules that regulate the manner in which war is conducted. The deontology approach best defines the answer he gives and the illustrations he outlines of the need to have rules during war. The theory is based on the duty one has on ensuring the good of others. The theory states that an individual has the duty of avoiding wronging others and ensuring the good of a majority of the citizens. Moreover, one has a duty of reducing harm to others (Gaus 180). Adam believes that having rules in war is critical since it ensures that individuals accomplish their duties of reducing harm to others. The rules play a role in protecting innocent people, which is a moral duty of all people.
The interview was intense as Adams supported his answers with the required evidence to develop a convincing argument. In the midst of his flow of thoughts, I asked ‘should one still act humanely during the war, and how?’ He took a sip of water before embarking on answering the question. ‘It is paramount for individuals engaging in war to be humane in some cases. Despite the differences that may have caused the way, soldiers must have a humane heart at some point in the war period. For instance, soldiers that have surrendered and agreed to defeat should not be killed. Their lives should be respected as well as their physical integrity. Regardless of the intensity of the war, individuals that have surrendered to the opponents should be allowed to live. Moreover, the wounded and sick individuals should not be subjected to any other form of cruelty rather they should be given the medical attention they require. If they do not pose a threat to the opponents, they should not be subjected to suffering. Moreover, it is critical to be humane during the war by not using powerful weapons that do not match those of the opponents. Parties involved in a conflict should not use methods of warfare that is likely to cause unnecessary and excessive suffering. Being humane during the war is important since it ensures there are limited casualties and enhances respect for human rights and life.’ It is clear from the answer that some form of humanity during the war would have had a critical impact in reducing the suffering of the subjects. In his answer, Adam uses the virtual theory. The theory points out on the need to develop good habits of character that would play a role in enhancing the well-being of self and others (Der Derian 773). Good habits and character is the main reason that individuals would be humane during warfare. Since the virtues are learned attributes from a young age, some people may be keen on ensuring they have the respect of life as well as ensuring justice prevail. Instead of killing, one could focus on capturing the opponent and subjecting them to the rule of law.
The last question in the interview was ‘Do you think pacifism can accomplish the same things war can, why or why not?’ Adam took a deep breath as he thought through the answer before giving his views. In his response, he stated that ‘pacifism could have similar results as that of war in ending the conflict. The United Nations has been in the frontline to advocate for peaceful methods in conflict resolutions between countries. The focus on such a strategy is expected to provide the best results as opposed to war. In many cases, the United Nations has been a mediator between different warring nations and some cases have had fruitful results. Moreover, there are cases when neighboring countries have acted as mediators between other states in an attempt to find a lasting solution based on peaceful negotiations. The United Nations through its various agencies have constantly advocated for a peaceful world that is characterized by peaceful negotiations in cases conflict arises. Moreover, powerful states have also had a key interest on the cases of conflict across the world. They have also had a stand on pacifism, which is an indication it would have as good results in resolving conflicts as war. It is; however, important to note that sometimes war is aggressive and may cause one party to give in to the demands of the other without any bargain of a deal. The winner of the war determines the stake they will have as opposed to the peaceful means that may see both parties have a share of the stake.’ Adam’s answer to the question was mostly based on what the United Nations and the powerful nations believed regarding the use of pacifism in ending the war. He constantly quotes the United Nations and how it advocates for the use of peaceful methods to address the conflicts between different states. His answer is based on a fallacy of the appeal to authority. He states that pacifism would have similar results as war because the United Nations and superpowers have a similar view (Hundleby 279). It is an aspect that shows Adam is not quite sure about his stand on the issue; hence, he must rely on the information provided by an expert authority on matters of international peace.
Adams provides comprehensive answers on the questions asked about the war. It is evident that he has well-informed opinions that are based on evidence and the reality about conflict. His family background has played a role in making him informed in matters related to war and as a result, have found it easy to tackle the questions asked during the interview. It is also evident that Adam has been guided by different moral theories based on the responses he has provided. It is clear that morality forms a critical part of human life.
- Der Derian, James. ‘Virtuous war/virtual theory.’ International Affairs vol.76, no.4, 2000, pp.771-788.
- Driver, Julia. Consequentialism. Abingdon:, Routledge, 2011.
- Gaus, Gerald F. ‘What is deontology? Part two: Reasons to act.’ The Journal of Value Inquiry vol.35, no.2, 2001, pp.179-193.
- Hundleby, Catherine. ‘The authority of the fallacies approaches to argument evaluation.’ Informal Logic vol.20, no.3, 2010, pp.279.