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Kant’s Ethical Behavior

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In 1993, when 12,500 United States servicemen attempted to help the citizens of Somalia by bringing food, medicine, and order in a time when warlords were the law and the common people were cannon fodder, morality seemed to have been both at its highest points and soon after in its lowest. The very same people who were cheering and celebrating during the day were later trying to kill the very same soldiers who were attempting to help them. Caught in the middle of Mogadishu, Somalia in what was supposed to be a simple policing action, the service members of the U.S. military had to fight the same people they were trying to save. The fighting itself, which was later depicted in the movie Black Hawk Down (2001) demonstrated the actions of the soldiers as well as those of the people of Somalia. As a result of the fighting, the United States and the other United Nations Countries which included Pakistan, Great Britain, and Canada decided to evacuate Somalia and to leave the people deal with their own problems. Morality, in this instance, can be described as a high morality as well as a very low morality, depending on whom and at what time it is being referred to.

To understand the many different perspectives in this incident and therefore understand the different views of morality, it is necessary to use Kant’s rules and views of morality to properly dissect the story. To begin, we must consider the initial value and moral attitudes of the United States servicemen who went to Somalia will be elaborated on. When they first arrived to the country, most of the American soldiers in Somalia believed in the cause that they were fighting for. They believed that they had the moral responsibility of helping those who could not help themselves. According to Kant’s moral philosophy of Good Will, Moral Worth, and Duty, one only does actions that are deemed to them as

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morally worthy. By this definition then, the soldiers were, at least until this moment, morally correct in their actions. The soldiers will continue to be morally correct in their actions as long as their lives are not in too much danger. Human good-will, it seems, is not without a limit.

The very nature of humans, in this case human interests, will make the up-keeping of Good Will, Moral Worth and Duty very difficult; it is here that the moral value of the soldiers fighting in Somalia loss its worth. This is not to say that they are now completely immoral, merely that if compared to Kant’s standards, they have lost justification to his rule. The reason for this is that one is morally correct in the rule of Good Will, Moral Worth and Duty as long as one keeps true to their strict moral code at all times of their life, not just when it is safe or convenient to do so. When the American soldiers started getting attacked by the Somali citizens, they instinctively automatically changed from helping to defending themselves; a move that would be natural with human beings, not just the soldiers. Regardless of whether it is natural or not for a human being to change from humanitarian efforts to self defense methods in a situation such as that, they changed the rules so that bit would fit them as they needed it at the moment; instead of helping the people as their initial moral ethics instructed them to do, they changed those ethics to suit a more personal and important objective at the time: survival. As a result of this effortless by the soldiers to change their values and priorities, in this case being their lives over the lives of the Somali people (lives who only a few hours prior had seemed to be their first priority). Throughout the experiences and incident that the American soldiers had to go through, a clear view of the initial high of the morality in helping the people as well as the failure of the same morality when faced with a more important personal choice can

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