Ethics. A tough concept. In essence, ethics goes to the heart of doing what is right, what is good, and what is just (Balto 2015). As heinous as the thought of killing innocent non-combatants, as was the case at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the bottom line, is that those swift, decisive, and perhaps difficult to make decisions, abruptly ended an even more horrific world war. These actions immediately brought the Japanese effort to an immediate halt and ended this most destructive and awful war. As tough a pill as an atomic bomb and its after effects may be to swallow, the bottom line is that had the war persisted, there is no question but that thousands of other innocents would also have died and suffered (Dower 1998). It is widely believed that there would have been mass casualty for both Japan and the Allies, had Operation Downfall, the planned invasion of Japan, actually taken place (‘Ending the War’ 2009). Moreover, the Japanese tactics were no ethical exemplar, as they consistently demonstrated a vicious disregard for human life that was nothing brutal (Dower 1998).
While deontologist may argue that we have certain “duties” to uphold, and that some actions are simply wrong, irrespective of the rationale, there is perhaps greater weight in the utilitarian argument of means justifying ends. In the utilitarian construct, the loss of innocent lives may indeed by justifiable if more lives would be saved in the long run from the catalytic action. Arguably, President Truman was morally justified in his decision to drop the bomb, which also is supported by the ethical ego position, that some lives may indeed be more valuable than others (Balto 2015). After all, it was next to impossible for Truman to have foreseen the deleterious long term consequences
(Krasemann 2008, 47). Such decisions are tough, and sometimes it may feel like playing God, but there always different ways to justify or to tear down the same.
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