What’s Fair in War
Question: How did military ethics become a field\r\nof serious inquiry?\r\n\r\n
Nancy Sherman: If\r\nyou think about the history and its introduction into the military \r\nacademies,\r\nit often is indexed or linked to a cheating scandal. And\r\n that was certainly the case of the Naval academy when I\r\nwas brought in, in the mid-‘90s. \r\nThey had taught psychology of leadership and also the law of war,\r\n or\r\nthe law of the high seas, that sort of thing, but they didn’t teach \r\nmilitary\r\nethics until they had a massive electrical engineering cheating scandal. And the same, I believe with West\r\nPoint, and I thinking 1959, the Air Force probably was ahead of the \r\ncurve and\r\ndid it, I think without provocation.\r\n\r\n
But it’s a relatively new field in the way that the\r\n ethics\r\nof, these applied ethics are sort of business of law. Often\r\n they come about when there’s a problem and they\r\nrealize that some of us who have been teaching ethics for the longest \r\ntime and\r\nteach these general issues even though they might not be specifically \r\napplied\r\nto a kind of profession. But it’s\r\nas old—the topic is as old as the ancients. If \r\nyou think about it, in the Iliad, Achilles drags around\r\nHector’s body seven times around, desecrating it in revenge, wild \r\nrevenge for\r\nthe death of his buddy, Achilles’ buddy, Patroclus. And\r\n Homer says finally, he breaks down and says, “Even the\r\ngods cannot sit by quietly and watch this.” And \r\nthey protect the face of this desecrated body so that in\r\nfact, because if the gods watch, it’s never really desecrated. So there’s this important sense of the\r\nugliness of revenge. Maybe it’s a\r\ncombat motivator, maybe it’s fire in the belly that adrenalizes, we \r\nwould say,\r\nbut it’s got its really ugly side.\r\n\r\n
And so the Stoics come in later as a comment on the\r\nancients, they themselves, like second century, before the common era, \r\nthe second\r\ncentury after, and say, you ancients, including Plato and Aristotle, but\r\n before\r\nthat Homer and his warrior tradition gave carte blanche, you might say, \r\nopen\r\nticket to revenge, but revenge knows no limits, knows no excess. So, event he warrior ought not to have\r\nit. Do it for its own sake. Fight\r\n in there because the cause is\r\nright, or because you believe in the cause, not for the sake of payback,\r\nbecause you won’t be able to control the revenge. Once\r\n it’s out of the gate, the game is over.\r\n\r\n
So, it’s been around for a long time and that gives\r\n you a\r\nsense of... it’s been around as a worry about the inward war, not just \r\nwhat you’re\r\ndoing to other people and whether your conduct is good, but how you can \r\ncontrol\r\nyour own inner motives. So, that’s\r\nwhat I’m fascinated by, it’s not just the limits of just war. That’s been also a tradition since the\r\nmedieval... since the Crusades. How\r\ndoes a king get his, or the church get his Army going and have them not \r\nhave\r\nmassacres? And how do they\r\nseparate the people that are legitimate targets from those who aren’t\r\nlegitimate targets? Are the\r\ncivilians, or the folks that aren’t knights in armors, are the \r\nlegitimate? No, they’re not legitimate. But there’s always been rape, pillage,\r\nand plunder. In the middle ages,\r\nit became a cause célèbre. Let’s\r\nwrite rules for the church so they know how to fight. So\r\n that’s been about justification. When can you go\r\n to war and how does the\r\nhonorable, chivalrous soldier fight well?\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n
What there has been very little discussion of is \r\nwhat goes\r\non in the head of the soldier and how do they conduct the moral debate \r\nin side\r\nand live with the moral difficulties and quandaries. And\r\n that’s sort of what I’ve been interested in, and it’s in\r\nthe border between philosophy, that's worried about justification of \r\nwars, just\r\ncauses, and just conduct. And\r\npsychology that’s worried about what goes on in the privacy of a \r\nclinician’s\r\noffice and the unloading of the trauma. Between \r\nthose two goals, there’s a huge area about the moral\r\npsychology in the inner psyche of the soldier.\r\n\r\n
Question: Is there some\r\ntruth to the idea that "all’s fair" in war?\r\n\r\n
Nancy Sherman: There’s\r\n a real sense that all’s fair in\r\nlove and war, you know, and that all the rules are off. But\r\n since the Middle Ages and the\r\nformulation of just war, however abstractly, the idea has been that \r\nthere are\r\nrules of permissibility. Both for\r\nthose in charge of declaring war, what counts as a reasonable cause, a \r\njust\r\ncause, a justification for going to war, and aggressing or defending\r\nyourself. And also for how the\r\nsoldier conducts herself, or himself, justly, honorably.\r\n\r\n
So, there’s that, and then there’s the reality of \r\nit, as you\r\nsay, and the concrete cases. So,\r\nright now, we, with the surge in Afghanistan, are dealing with, or \r\nshould be\r\ndealing with the real heavy moral implications of the nature of the\r\nfighting. So, General McChrystal\r\nhas made it very clear that there will be tight rules of engagement on \r\nthe\r\ntroops, the 100,000 troops that will be fully deployed in Afghanistan. And those troops will not be able to—if\r\nthey’re mingled civilian and insurgents, the troops need to put the\r\npreponderance of risk upon themselves and take additional risk rather \r\nthan risk\r\nthe lives of civilians, unless the unit is being overrun, and we’ve sent\r\n that\r\nthat is not full proof. In\r\nMarsiya, there were 12 killings, there have been drones that have killed\r\ncivilians, and now the Special Forces are under the same tight \r\nrestrictions,\r\nso, unified command.\r\n\r\n
Now the way that—you have to think about that, how \r\ndoes that\r\nplay out on the troops? Well we\r\nknow a lot of the grunts, the ground troops, are grumbling bitterly on \r\nfighting\r\nwith one hand tied behind my back while they get all the advantage \r\nbecause they\r\ncan shield their innocence in... They shield their insurgents in \r\ncivilian populations and then I as a\r\ncombat troop have to restrict my fire. \r\nSo, you have to say, are they risking troops at the cost of \r\nsaving the\r\ncivilians in Afghanistan and some will say that. And\r\n we’ll say, oh, it’s just a political ploy. We \r\nneed to buy the hearts and minds of\r\nthe population. But I think it\r\nalso is protecting the hearts and minds of our own soldiers, and that’s \r\nthe\r\nmilitary ethics really made concrete.\r\n\r\n
The soldiers I have spoken to who have been \r\ninvolved in\r\ncivilian casualties, that’s an awful term, collateral damage. It makes it—it’s so euphemistic. But\r\n it means not just accidental\r\nkillings of civilians, it’s where you foresee that it might happen, but \r\nyou\r\ndon’t intend it. The civilians are\r\nin the periphery of the target area and it’s an important enough target \r\nthat\r\nyou go for it. In cases like\r\ncheckpoint incidents in Afghanistan and Iraq where this has happened, \r\nand\r\nespecially if the civilian is a child. \r\nThe Marines that I’ve talked to just decompensate almost, they \r\nfeel so\r\nawful about killing a vulnerable child; it’s like the mythic child that \r\nhas\r\nbeen killed. And if you think\r\nabout it, here they are in a place on the Helmand Province we are \r\nfighting in\r\nAfghanistan, and they are there not only to be fighters, but they’re \r\npoliceman,\r\nthey’re community organizers, they’re building a city in a box. They’re building civic order in a box. \r\n And that’s how it’s been phrased. And \r\nthey’re the savior in a sense,\r\nthey’re bringing order. And\r\nthere’s a lot of idealism about them, but also the sheer reality of \r\nwhat’s\r\nhappening. And when they can’t do\r\nthat and they fail miserably in the sense of see a kid killed in the \r\nmidst of\r\nthat operation, I think that really, really plays hard.\r\n\r\n
So, I think the restrictions which come from high \r\nup and are\r\nimposed through the chain low down by a commander that has to work \r\nreally hard\r\nto restrain his troops and restrain the fire force, the fire power \r\nthat’s used\r\nare protecting the hearts and minds of our own soldiers. \r\n They’re reasonable moral\r\nrestraints. Not just to buy the\r\nhearts and minds of the country we’re in, but to preserve our own souls.
From the Iliad to Afghanistan, the field of military ethics has tried—not always successfully—to impose rules on the chaos of mass slaughter.
Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live this Thursday at 1pm ET.
Astronomers spot an object heading into Earth orbit.
Minimoons<p>Scientists have confirmed just two prior minimoons. One was <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_RH120" target="_blank">2006 RH120</a>, which orbited us from September 2006 to June 2007. The other was <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_CD3" target="_blank">2020 CD3</a>, which got stuck in the 2015–2016 timeframe, and is believed to gotten away in May 2020.</p><p>2020 SO, the new kid on the block, is expected to arrive in October 2020 and pop out of orbit in May 2021.</p><div id="37962" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f4c0fc8a2cba6536ea4cd960ebed3e6e"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1307729521869611008" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Asteroid 2020 SO may get captured by Earth from Oct 2020 - May 2021. Current nominal trajectory shows shows capture… https://t.co/F5utxRvN6Z</div> — Tony Dunn (@Tony Dunn)<a href="https://twitter.com/tony873004/statuses/1307729521869611008">1600621989.0</a></blockquote></div>
Identifying 2020 SO<p>The first clue 2020 SO isn't your ordinary asteroid is its exceptionally low velocity. It's traveling much more slowly that a typical asteroid — their <a href="https://www.lpi.usra.edu/exploration/training/illustrations/craterMechanics/" target="_blank">average rate of travel</a> <a href="https://www.lpi.usra.edu/exploration/training/illustrations/craterMechanics/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"></a>is 18 kilometers (58,000 feet) per second. Even <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_rock" target="_blank">moon rocks</a> sent careening into Earth orbit by impacts on the lunar surface outpace pokey 2020 SO.</p><p>For another thing, 2020 SO has an orbital path very similar to Earth's, lasting about one Earth year. It's also just slightly less circular than our own orbit, from which it's barely tilted off-axis.</p><p>So, what is it? <a href="https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/ca/" target="_blank">NASA estimates</a> that the object has dimensions very reminiscent of a discarded Centaur rocket stage from the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveyor_2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Surveyor 2 mission</a> that landed an unmanned craft on the moon. Back in the day, rocket stages were jettisoned as craft were aimed toward their desired position. This stuff, if released high enough, remains in space. It appears that this Centaur rocket, launched in September 1966, is now making its way back homeward, at least for a little bit.</p><p>When 2020 SO arrives at its closest point in December, the rocket is expected to be about 50,000 kilometers from Earth. Its next closest approach is much further: 220,000 kilometers, in February 2010.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQzMDk3NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyODg1MTQ1MX0.HGknDwqp0GmeuczKY_AS7vrPG7KMFUc_XO95tNoI2xo/img.jpg?width=980" id="e5cda" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="85eb1f790d8c3ee5b261f7ba13eaa5e1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Centaur rocket stage" />
Centaur rocket stage
What we may be able to learn<p>Earthly space programs being as young as they are, scientists would love to know what's happened to our rocket during a half century in space.</p><p>While 2020 SO won't get close enough to drop into our atmosphere, its slow progress has scientists hopeful that they'll still get some kind of a decent look at it.</p><p>Spectroscopy may be able to reveal what the rocket's surface is like now — has any of its paint survived, for example? Of course, being out in space, it's likely to have been hit by lots of dust and micrometeorites, so the current state of its surfaces is also of interest. Experts are curious to know how reflective the rocket is at this point, valuable information that can help planners of future long-term missions anticipate how well a craft out in space for extended periods will remain able to reflect sunlight.</p>
From cryonics to time travel, here are some of the (highly speculative) methods that might someday be used to bring people back to life.
- Alexey Turchin and Maxim Chernyakov, researchers belonging to the transhumanism movement, wrote a paper outlining the main ways technology might someday make resurrection possible.
- The methods are highly speculative, ranging from cryonics to digital reconstruction of individual personalities.
- Surveys suggest most people would not choose to live forever if given the option.
Immortality and identity<p>The paper defines life as a "continued stream of subjective experiences" and death as the permanent end of that stream. Immortality, to them, is a "life stream without end," and resurrection is the "continuation of that same stream of experiences after an arbitrarily long gap."</p><p>Another key clarification is the identity problem: How would you know that a downloaded copy of yourself really was going to be <em>you? </em>Couldn't it just be a convincing yet incomplete and fundamentally distinct representation of your brain?</p><p>If you believe that your copy is not <em>you</em>, that implies you believe there's something more to your identity than the (currently) quantifiable information contained within your brain and body, according to the researchers. In other words, your "informational identity" does not constitute your true identity.</p><p>In this scenario, there must exist what the researchers call a "non-informational identity carrier" (NIIC). This could be something like a "soul." It could be "qualia," which are the unmeasurable "subjective experiences which could be unique to every person." Or maybe it doesn't exist at all.</p><p>It's no matter: The researchers say resurrection, in some form, should be possible in either scenario.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"If no 'soul' exist[s], resurrection is possible via information preservation; if soul[s] exist, resurrection is possible via returning of the "soul" into the new body. But some forms of NIIC are also very fragile and mortal, like continuity," the researchers noted.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The problem of the nature of human identity could be solved by future superintelligent AI, but for now it cannot be definitively solved. This means that we should try to preserve as much identity as possible and not refuse any approaches to life extension and resurrection even if they contradict our intuitions about identity, as our notions of identity could change later."</p>
Potential resurrection methods<p>Turchin and Chernyakov outline seven broad categories of potential resurrection methods, ranked from the most plausible to most speculative.<br></p><p>The first category includes methods practiced while the person is alive, like cryonics, plastination, and preserving brain tissue through processes like chemical fixation. The researchers noted that there have been "suggestions that the claustrum, hypothalamus, or even a single neuron is the neural correlate of consciousness," so it may be possible to preserve just that part of a person, and later implant it into another organism.</p><p>Other methods get far stranger. For example, one method includes super-intelligent AI that uses a <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyson_sphere#:~:text=A%20Dyson%20sphere%20is%20a,percentage%20of%20its%20power%20output." target="_blank">Dyson sphere</a> to harness the power of the sun to "power enormous calculation engines" that would "reconstruct" people who collected a sufficient amount of data on their identities.</p>
Turchin<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The main idea of a resurrection-simulation is that if one takes the DNA of a past person and subjects it to the same developmental condition, as well as correcting the development based on some known outcomes, it is possible to create a model of a past person which is very close to the original," the researchers wrote.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"DNA samples of most people who lived in past 1 to 2 centuries could be extracted via global archeology. After the moment of death, the simulated person is moved into some form of the afterlife, perhaps similar to his religious expectations, where he meets his relatives."</p><p>Delving further into sci-fi territory, another resurrection method would use time-travel technology.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"If there will at some point be technology that allows travel to the past, then our future descendants will be able to directly save people dying in the past by collecting their brains at the moment of death and replacing them with replicas," the paper states.</p><p>How? Sending tiny robots back in time.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"A nanorobot could be sent several billion years before now, where it could secretly replicate and sow nanotech within all living being[s] without affecting the course of history. At the moment of death, such nanorobots could be activated to collect data about the brain and preserve it somewhere until its future resurrection; thus, there would be no need for forward time travel."</p>
Pixabay<p>The paper <a href="https://www.academia.edu/36998733/Classification_of_the_approaches_to_the_technological_resurrection" target="_blank">goes on to outline some more resurrection methods</a>, including ones that involve parallel worlds, aliens, and clones, along with a good, old-fashioned possibility: God exists and one day he resurrects us. </p><p>In short, it's all extremely speculative.</p><p>But the aim of the paper was to catalogue known potential ways humans might be able to cheat death. For Turchin, that's not some far-off project: In addition to studying global risks and transhumanism, the Russian researcher heads the <a href="http://immortality-roadmap.com/" target="_blank">Immortality Roadmap</a>, which, similar to the 2018 paper, outlines various ways in which we might someday achieve immortality.</p><p>Although it may take centuries before humans come close to "digital immortality," Turchin believes that life-extension technology could allow some modern people to survive long enough to see it happen. </p><p>Want a shot at being among them? Beyond the obvious, like staying healthy, the Immortality Roadmap suggests you start collecting extensive data on yourself: diaries, video recordings, DNA information, EEGs, complex creative objects — all of which could someday be used to digitally "reconstruct" your identity.</p>But odds are you're not interested. Although Turchin and other scientists are bent on finding ways to avoid death and extend life indefinitely, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/may/16/dying-still-taboo-subject-poll" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">surveys</a> <a href="https://quillette.com/2018/03/02/would-you-opt-for-immortality/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">repeatedly</a> <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutesvanity-fair-poll-the-afterlife/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">show</a> that most people would not opt to live forever if given the choice.
Welcome to the world's newest motorsport: manned multicopter races that exceed speeds of 100 mph.
- Airspeeder is a company that aims to put on high-speed races featuring electric flying vehicles.
- The so-called Speeders are able to fly at speeds of up to 120 mph.
- The motorsport aims to help advance the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) sector, which could usher in the age of air taxis.
Credit: Airspeeder<p>To prevent crashes, Airspeeder is working with the companies Acronis and Teknov8 to develop "high-speed collision avoidance" systems for its Speeders.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"As they compete, Speeders will utilise cutting-edge LiDAR and Machine Vision technology to ensure close but safe racing, with defined and digitally governed no-fly areas surrounding spectators and officials," Airspeeder wrote in a <a href="https://airspeeder.com/news/2020/9/7/airspeeder-worlds-first-flying-electric-car-racing-series-partners-with-cyber-protection-leader-acronis-34g4k" target="_blank">blog post</a>.</p>
Credit: Airspeeder<p>Beyond motorsports, Airspeeder hopes to help advance the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) sector. This sector is where companies like <a href="https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/business-aviation/2020-01-07/hyundai-and-uber-announce-evtol-air-taxi-partnership" target="_blank">Uber, Hyundai</a>, and Airbus are working to develop air taxis, which could someday take the ridesharing industry into the skies. By 2040, the autonomous urban aircraft industry could be worth $1.5 trillion, according to a <a href="https://www.morganstanley.com/ideas/autonomous-aircraft" target="_blank">2019 report</a> from Morgan Stanley.</p><p>Still, many technical and regulatory hurdles remain. Matt Pearson, Airspeeder's founder and CEO, thinks the futuristic motorsport will help to not only speed up that process, but also pave the way for self-driving cars.</p>
Archaeology clues us in on the dangers of letting viruses hang around.
- A University of Otago researcher investigates the spread of disease in ancient Vietnam.
- The infectious disease, yaws, has been with us for thousands of years with no known cure.
- Using archaeology to investigate disease offers clues into modern-day pandemics.
History-Changing Archaeological Finds<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ed6ad05071e93f257aa0b73f4001c805"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gydYHHfnLhE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>While we rightfully look toward infectious disease experts during times such as now, archaeologists also have plenty to offer. A <a href="http://journals.upress.ufl.edu/bioarchaeology/article/view/1173" target="_blank">new research article</a>, published in the journal, Bioarchaeology Journal, turns back the clock to ancient Vietnam. The findings offer important clues about why we need to eradicate COVID-19.</p><p>Lead author Melandri Vlok, a PhD student at the University of Otago in New Zealand (with support from researchers in Australia, Vietnam, Japan, and the UK), investigated a case of yaws that ran through the Neolithic archeological site of Mán Bạc in Northeast Vietnam. </p><p>Yaws remains a common infectious disease in at least 13 tropical countries, with up to a half-million infected each year. Hard skin lesions form on the victim's bodies; they can form painful ulcers. While lesions usually subside within six months, bone and joint pain and fatigue are common. Some cases last many years and result in permanent scars. On occasion, death follows a long battle. </p><p>Subsistence farmers in mainland China have long battled the environment. Finding the right soil and water sources for their crops has been a generational battle. Roughly 4,000 years ago, such farmers made their way into Mainland Southeast China (modern day Vietnam), where, as Vlok writes, "genetic admixture and social transition occurs between foragers and farmers." In 2018, Vlok traveled to Mán Bạc to study the remains of seven skeletons, which included two adults, two adolescents, and two children.</p><p>Her findings help give us perspective on today's proliferation of the coronavirus. As she <a href="https://www.otago.ac.nz/news/news/releases/otago744185.html" target="_blank">says</a>, </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"This matters, because knowing more about this disease and its evolution, it changes how we understand the relationship people have with it. It helps us understand why it's so difficult to eradicate. If it's been with us thousands of years it has probably developed to fit very well with humans." </p>
My Son Sanctuary, Quang Nam, Vietnam.
Credit: Mrkela / Shutterstock<p>Yaws is not the only disease considered in the article. Tuberculosis, brucellosis, and cancers were also discussed. The goal of the research was to identify disease spread through cultures and the chronic problems left behind, sometimes for millennia. Vlok notes how temperature fluctuations in the Mán Bạc region affected a variety of diseases. Yaws appeared to have spread easily due to an abundance of water and vegetation, combined with increased population density—children are more likely to spread this disease.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Pre-industrialized agricultural communities have also been associated with increased incidence of yaws. The coastal region is also slightly warmer and more humid than inland northern Vietnam and therefore more conducive to the spread of yaws."</p><p>The Climate Clock is <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2020/09/21/climate-change-metronome-clock-nyc/" target="_blank">ticking down</a>. We're already experiencing the ravages of this global shift, and it's not going to get any easier if interventions are not immediately legislated. While no single science will help us wrap our heads around the immediate future, Vlok suggests factoring in archaeology. Past precedent matters.</p><p>Gazing back a few hundred generations offers important clues for the future—really, the present—that we must confront. A concerted effort by the World Health Organization in the 1950s couldn't eradicate yaws. Diseases that have an opportunity to hang around will exploit every advantage it can. The blasé attitude too many Americans currently hold about the novel coronavirus's dangers is going to have a reverberating effect through the generations. As Vlok concludes, </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"This shows us what happens when we don't take action with these diseases. It's a lesson of what infectious diseases can do to a population if you let them spread widely. It highlights the need to intervene, because sometimes these diseases are so good at adapting to us, at spreading between us."</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>