June 24, 2007 at 6:38 pm #748
Do you think it would have been morally justified if you could go back in time and assassinate Hitler before he assumed power in Germany? I'm speaking of sometime – perhaps in the late 1920s – before he implemented his murderous policies.June 24, 2007 at 8:14 pm #9100StumpfootParticipant
YesJune 24, 2007 at 9:04 pm #9101DonaldBakerParticipant
Definitely yes.June 24, 2007 at 10:23 pm #9102
If he was actively seeking to implement his policies at that time, then yes.June 24, 2007 at 10:43 pm #9103
If he was actively seeking to implement his policies at that time, then yes.
Hmmm....please explain.June 24, 2007 at 11:28 pm #9104
He would have to be guilty of something to justify it. You said before he came into power.June 25, 2007 at 12:29 am #9105
Skiguy, I agree more with your line of thinking than with Donnie's or Stumpfoot's. Perhaps I should have avoided the “assassination” issue here, but even setting that aside, I don't think it's right to punish someone for future evil acts which have not occurred. By the way, I think this is a classic ethical question which you may already have heard. It's a good question to ponder, though.June 25, 2007 at 1:44 am #9106DonaldBakerParticipant
If we definitely knew Hitler was going to perpetrate his heinous plans, then yes pre-emptively killing him is morally justifiable IMHO.June 25, 2007 at 2:20 am #9107
I think that the crux of the ethical matter, though, is that you cannot harm someone for evil not yet decided upon, not yet committed or in the act of committing. In this sense the question echoes the situation present in the movie Minority Report, where people were arrested for crimes not yet performed. Because Hitler hadn't begun his reign of terror in the 1920s we can't punish him for acts he'll decide to do later on in life.June 25, 2007 at 5:15 am #9108WallyParticipant
Ah yes, but if we are the all knowing from the future…. what say you then?WallyJune 25, 2007 at 8:27 am #9109
To those who said yes (and maybe I need a history lesson): in the 20's did we or Britain already know or suspect Hitler of anything? Or, is it after he attained power when everything came to light? I guess I'm asking, did you guys say yes because of hindsight?One has to consider, if he wasn't in power yet, then he or the government of Germany wasn't really a threat. (certainly not like modern day Iran is now)June 25, 2007 at 8:49 am #9110StumpfootParticipant
I guess I'm asking, did you guys say yes because of hindsight?
That was the question wasnt it? If we could go back in time and stop a man from murdering millions would we? That answer is yes, any other is immoral.June 25, 2007 at 4:27 pm #9111
So then if you answer “yes” you should have no problem if someone were to come back in time and assassinate you for a disastrous evil act committed by you at some point in the future, even if you haven't decided to do this act yet….right? And it's my understanding that the Allies did not know the extent of the holocaust until they freed the prisoners. I'm sure they may have had "reports" but not the pictures we know of now through history books, movies, etc.June 25, 2007 at 6:38 pm #9112
Maybe the original question was misleading?If you knew what you do now and went back in time..then it's justified.If you went back and only knew what everyone else did at that time, then no.June 25, 2007 at 7:37 pm #9113
But ski I think that's the whole point of the question, at least from an ethics perspective. It's my understanding that it would not be right to kill Hitler back in the 1920s or so even if you knew the atrocities he would commit later on in life. Because he had not yet done these atrocities you can't punish him, even if you know he was going to do them later on. Perhaps a better way to look at the situation is like this – statistics will say whether or not a particular person has a good chance of committing crime given the environment the person grows up in. Would it be alright to kill that person before the person actually committed any crime?I remember hearing the Hitler scenario from a person some years ago and thinking that it would be permissible to kill him to prevent later horrors. However, the person asking the question said it would not be correct. Whatever the result, it's an interesting ethical decision to ponder.
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