November 10, 2001

Binary day

Hey, I just noticed it’s a binary day. So is tomorrow. That’ll be the last one for 1001 (expressed in binary) years. I am such a geek.

War & utilitarianism

Remember the saying “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”?I’ve been thinking a lot about the ethics of this war in Afghanistan. I’m not a pacifist–I do think some kind of military response is appropriate–but I consider the bombing of civilians (even inadvertent) to be unacceptable. I’m basically a utilitarian in my outlook, and so I think the U.S’ goal should be to minimize deaths. But it seems possible that the minimum number of civilian deaths (American, Afghan, whatever) at this point is still going to be higher than zero. To put it crudely, we’ll need to break some eggs to make an omelette.Anyhow, the upshot of all the twists and turns I’ve taken when thinking about this boils down to one basic question of ethics. Is it acceptable to risk civilian casualties in the interest achieving a legitimate military goal (let’s assume just for the sake of argument that it is legitimate). Or to put it in a more general way: is it ethical to take an action that in itself is unethical (or ethically dubious), but is in the service of the greater good? Or should one’s actions always be ethical on their own, and if they lead to more trouble down the road, well, you’ll just cross that bridge when you come to it and hope you can muddle through?I really don’t know the answer to this question. In different contexts, I can argue either way. And I don’t think the answer can be derived through a priori reasoning.What do you think?

A two-party night

Well. A two-party night. At Opal Divine’s, there was a little get-together (not so little, as it turned out) to congratulate Phil on his 3:28 finish in the NYC Marathon. Pretty darned good, especially considering it was his first marathon.

Then there was a party at Debbie’s. There was fire, but I just wasn’t quite feeling up to spinning fire, so I went as a civilian. That was cool. I still had fun. It was a nice change of pace to go without any expectation of performing.

Was hungry afterwards, so I stopped at the Denny’s on the I-35 feeder. Sat at the counter and waited. And waited. A group of Indian 20-somethings came in, the women lavishly dolled up in very ornate saris, etc. That was kind of neat. After a few minutes, I got impatient at the lack of service, and left. Went to Star Seeds instead, which is a much more suitable venue for late-night noshing.