Ender's Game v. Harris on Intent (SPOILERS)
I thought this might be an interesting way to link the non-fiction and fiction readings this quarter. If you are participating in the Ender's Game reading or have any desire to read Ender's Game, I recommend not reading this thread. I intend to draw a parallel between the morality in the fictional work and a point Harris suggests in End of Faith. It should lead to a fairly interesting discussion in regards to Intent vs. Result with lots of linkage to a similar topic I posted in the Ender's Game Forum.
One last warning, this thread contains SPOILERS to Ender's Game. Proceed only if you have no desire to read Ender's Game or have already finished the book.
We have a good opportunity here to bridge the two readings I think (Ender's Game and End of Faith) with an interesting point suggested by Harris on p141 in regards to the United States missle attack on Sudan in 1998 that killed thousands of Sudanese children. Unfortunately, I am entirely uneducated on the disaster being mentioned. Here is further reading from Wikipedia
on the subject.
Harris suggests we are on a different level in the bombing of Sudan than the 9/11 terrorists to which Chomsky compares the two events as both resulted in the deaths of innocent lives, more deaths resulted in the Sudan bombing than 9/11. Harris argues that we did not intend mass death and the killing of innocent civilians unlike the 9/11 terrorists, who's sole purpose was the death of innocents. Harris seems to suggest that Chomsky is off his rocker by suggesting the United States commited a terrorist act itself in this operation, one of numerous grevences the Islamic world holds against the west.
Here is where I reference the Article I quoted in the Ender's Game thread that questions the morality of intent. In that post, I argued that someone completely blind to the results without intent can not be held accountable. However, this is a different situation because the Sudan bombing was not blind. The intent
definitely was not to kill innocent civilians; however, we were not blind to the fact that lobbing bombs into the air almost always results in the unintended deaths of innocents. Our lack of intent can not be utilized as a defense against the results because we had reasonable knowledge that the unintended out come was probable.
Compared to a rather unique situation in Ender's Game in which Ender was completely 100% blind to his actions and probable consequences. I would argue that if an unintended outcome is probable from any given action, we are indeed guilty in that actions unintended consequences. Perhaps we are not on the same exact level as 9/11 terrorists in so far as motivation is concerned (though I suspect it could be argued that the 9/11 terrorists also consider their actions as a matter of "protection"). However, we are most certainly, as a nation, guilty of unitended mass murder in the pursuits of our goals. We may be able to justify the action (and that is NOT what this thread is about nor do I desire to take it there); however, the end result is the same: a whole lot of innocent civilians killed.
Intent is important when evaluting morality; however, lack of intent is no excuse for an action caused by ignoring probabilities that any rational person could assume might occur by a given action. To summarize, Ignorance is no Excuse and could be described as Passive Intent if unpleasant possibilities were actively dismissed.