Ethics  Written Essay write 3-5 pages. Answers must be typed, double  spaced, with 12 pt. font. All works must be properly cited. Discuss  the example of Harry Truman dropping nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and  Nagasaki in the context of the Utilitarian and Kantian principles. Also  include a discussion of Elizabeth Anscombe’s critic of Truman.

The decision by Harry Truman to drop nuclear weapons on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II remains controversial and highly debated in ethical discussions. This event raises important questions about the moral justifications for such actions, particularly when viewed through the lens of utilitarian and Kantian principles. In addition, Elizabeth Anscombe’s critique of Truman’s decision provides further insight into the ethical implications of this act.

Utilitarianism, a consequentialist ethical theory, focuses on maximizing overall happiness or well-being. According to this principle, an action is morally right if it produces the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people. In the case of Truman’s decision to drop atomic bombs, a utilitarian analysis could argue that it was justified because it brought about the immediate end of World War II, saving countless lives that would have been lost during a prolonged invasion of the Japanese mainland.

From a utilitarian perspective, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki can be seen as a means to an end, with the end being the greater good of ending the war quickly. The immense destruction and loss of life caused by the bombings must be weighed against the potential loss of life that would have occurred in a prolonged conflict. This utilitarian argument rests on the assumption that the bombings were necessary to achieve this outcome.

Kantian ethics, on the other hand, takes a deontological approach that prioritizes moral duties and universal principles. According to Immanuel Kant, moral actions are those that conform to a universal moral law or duty, regardless of the consequences. From a Kantian perspective, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki would be considered morally wrong because they violated the principle of treating all individuals as ends in themselves, rather than as mere means to an end.

Kant’s categorical imperative, which states that individuals should act only according to principles that could become universal laws, would prohibit the intentional targeting of innocent civilians, as it treats them merely as a means to an end. By deliberately inflicting mass casualties on civilian populations, the bombings arguably violated this principle.

Furthermore, Anscombe’s critique of Truman’s decision highlights the ethical issues surrounding the bombings. Anscombe argues that Truman’s decision was unjustified because it involved the intentional killing of innocent civilians, which she believed to be inherently wrong. She asserts that Truman’s decision was based on a consequentialist calculation that prioritized the end result over the means used to achieve it.

According to Anscombe, this consequentialist reasoning is flawed because it treats the killing of innocent civilians as a mere means to an end, thereby disregarding their intrinsic value as human beings. From her perspective, the bombings were morally reprehensible because they violated the inherent dignity and rights of the individuals affected.

In conclusion, the dropping of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki presents a complex ethical dilemma that can be analyzed through the lenses of utilitarian and Kantian principles. From a utilitarian standpoint, the bombings can be seen as justified based on the immediate end of the war and potential lives saved. On the other hand, Kantian ethics would argue that the bombings violated the moral duty to treat individuals as ends in themselves rather than as a means to an end. Anscombe’s criticism further emphasizes the ethical concerns surrounding the intentional targeting of innocent civilians. This debate continues to raise important questions and challenges regarding the moral justifications for acts of extreme violence in wartime.

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