In 1956, the US president Harry Truman was to be given a honorary degree by the Oxford University for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, this arrangement was curtailed by an unprecedented twist of events as a distinguished and analytic philosopher, Anscombe G. E. M. by name, opposed the awarding of the Truman Degree on multiple counts. The crux of the matter was that Truman’s Just War theory was totally antithetical to what Anscombe thought was ideal: the belief that human life is sacrosanct.
These counts were mainly on moral counts. Similarly, the clash in ideologies is a matter that was underpinned by the fact that Truman was driven by the utilitarian doctrine that an action was considered helpful or expedient to an individual if it was seen not to go against the prospects of benefiting the majority. Closely woven to the above fact was the holding on to the concept of the Doctrine of the Just War.
The Doctrine of the Just War as a militaristic theory has its roots from the Roman and the Catholic Church philosophy and has been an object of studies by the moral theologians, policy makers in international relations and ethicists who maintained that a conflict was justifiable if it was carried out under certain conditions- with these conditions being underpinned by principles of political justice, philosophy and religion. According to Anscombe, the killing of the innocent was always and forever equitable to murder which was the highest epitome of human vices.
This means that the proscription of deliberate killing of the prisoners captured in war was not akin to the values of the Queensberry Rules. This is because the force thereof was not dependable on the promulgation of the positive law that was written down, based on the consensus. Anscombe maintains that the deaths that took place in Nagasaki and Hiroshima were equitable to murder since it is the killing of the innocent and as such, remains a moral wrong. Similarly, the bombing of the two cities were not anteceded by sound triggering reasons such as borderline disputes.
On the contrary, the bombings of the two cities did portend the killing of the innocent just because it was a means to an end. Anscombe equates the act of the two bombings with the peddling and the ratification of the maxim of “Committing evil so that good may come out of the vice”. In simple terms, Anscombe holds it that repudiating the cause of pacifism is not much of a turn of the natural development of the protests that she staged against the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.
To her, a pacifist who loathes the killings that took placer in the war and the realist ready enough to accept all sorts of killings in war were bedfellows in the same cause: whereas the pacifist was bent on turning every killing into murder, the realist on the other hand was geared towards justifying all forms of murder, being driven by necessity. A Look at Anscombe’s Views in the Light of Utilitarianism
There is lucidity in drawing out the conclusion that Anscombe’s postulations concerning the opposition towards the cause of Truman being awarded the honorary degree are directly antithetical towards utilitarianism. This is because, utilitarians such as John Stuart Mill pointed out that the greatest good behind an expedition is best vindicated by the effort benefiting the greatest number. To this extent, Truman would be vindicated, not on moral grounds, but because of the positive accruals that were gained by the US taking to bomb Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
In plain terms, historians and political scientists such Clarke (2002) as utilitarians would point out that it is these bombings that took America from the habitat of ordinary developed countries to a niche of its own as the world’s most probable superpower. Similarly, these same historians would point out that the act was sacrosanct in serving as a warning to Russia that was suspect towards the US. However, the case pointed out by Anscombe is not formidable enough to debilitate the cause for utilitarianism.
This is because, Anscombe does not account for the fact that virtually, there is no country on the face of the earth that was formed without warfare and the shedding of blood. Similarly, the ideas held by Anscombe remain very lopsided, in the sense that it indicts only the military top dog to the benefit of the underdog. This situation becomes untenable, in the present day whereby the world is globalized and as such faces new challenges. Among these challenges are matters such as the rise of terrorism against the superpowers.
This means that, given the fact that Anscombe stands for the underdog, there is no way the US can be able to militarily intervene on nations that have failed to uphold international law by harboring terrorists. Stuart Mill as a Utilitarian on the other hand would have it easy as the use of militarily intervention would perpetually remain the most feasible panacea in protecting the entire US population, her Allies and Interests when diplomacy fails.
Therefore, Mills there is no way Mills would accept the ideologies held by Anscombe. Mills dismissing Anscombe’s standpoints as being unfeasible would be underpinned, not just because he is a utilitarian, but also because utilitarianism is very practical in handling both national and global crises besetting the US. Work Cited Clarke, Ian. America and the Rise of Globalization and Fragmentation. New York: McGraw Hill. 2002.