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287. A Discourse on Morality and War: Exploring William Search's Theories

The Theory of Morality: A Foundation for Human Existence


In his thought-provoking books, "Why" and "Conversations with chatGPT: Exploring the Theory of Morality and Existence," William Search postulates that the very reason for human existence is morality. In this blog post, we shall delve into the moral dilemmas of war and how it affects the human spirit, as gleaned from Search's theories.


War and Its Moral Quandaries


Moral Injury: A Wound to the Soul


The term "moral injury" aptly encapsulates the damage done to one's conscience and moral compass when one commits, witnesses, or fails to prevent acts that contradict one's moral values. This concept is particularly relevant in the context of military service and war.

Not a recent invention, moral injury has been pondered by philosophers, poets, and military personnel throughout history. Its etymology is attributed to the writings of Vietnam War veteran Camillo "Mac" Bica and Jonathan Shay, who both experienced trauma during their military service.


The Growing Significance of Moral Injury


As the study of moral injury gains traction across disciplines, it becomes vital to comprehend how the experiences of war lead to suffering, rage, and estrangement that extend beyond typical mental health diagnoses like PTSD.


Drescher defines moral injury as a "disruption in an individual's confidence and expectations about one's own or others' motivation or capacity to behave in a just and ethical manner." Litz, on the other hand, refers to it as "the inability to contextualize or justify personal actions or the actions of others and the unsuccessful accommodation of these . . . experiences into pre-existing moral schemas." Shay emphasizes leadership failure and betrayal of what's right, while Silver describes it as a "deep soul wound."


Instances of Moral Injury


Examples of events that may result in moral injury include:

  1. Engaging in combat that causes civilian casualties.

  2. Ordering others to participate in a war that leads to the injury or death of fellow service members.

  3. Failing to provide medical aid to injured civilians or service members.

  4. Failing to report sexual assault or rape committed against oneself or others.


The Ramifications of Moral Injury


Moral injury can result in depression and suicidal thoughts, and its impact may prevent individuals from leading full and healthy lives. It can impair one's ability to trust, which affects not only the individual but also their family and community.

Similar to war, acts like rape and violence can cause comparable moral injuries.


Moral Injury, War, and the Human Spirit: A Reflection


The concept of moral injury teaches us that war goes beyond physical injuries and death; it has emotional and mental health consequences stemming from the degradation of one's moral principles.


When asked whether war can degrade a participant's moral compass, the answer would be affirmative. Many veterans who suffer from psychological issues are struggling with the impact of war on their morality.


Is recovery from moral injury possible? Yes, and it may involve:

  1. Forgiving oneself.

  2. Redefining and clarifying one's moral compass, and adhering to it.

  3. Engaging in selfless service to others.

In conclusion, the exploration of moral injury and its connection to war provides valuable insights into the human condition, underscoring the significance of morality in human existence. Moral injury serves as a powerful example of how actions that violate our moral compass can lead to profound suffering and emotional turmoil. This supports William Search's theory that the very reason for human existence is morality, as it highlights the deep-rooted need for individuals to maintain and uphold their moral values. By understanding the consequences of moral injury and the importance of a strong moral compass, we can strive to create a world where individuals can thrive in harmony with their core ethical principles.



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