Reading Assignment 1 ?Kill or be Killed?
Isaac Babel was a Jew born in Odessa in 1894 who fought with the Cossack Cavalry that were on the side of the Russian revolution. Babel is famous for his autobiographical stories about his time fighting with the Cossack Cavalry (They are collected in his Red Cavalry). While Babel?s own ethical perspective as a Jew was one that extolled the way of peace and valued mercy, the men he fought with had a different set of moral beliefs. To illustrate how different their moral beliefs were from that of Babel, or us, consider the following passage from one of Babel?s autobiographical stories, The Life Story of Pavilchenko, Matvey Rodionych. Matthew (Matvey), now a Red general, tramples on his former master, Nikitinsky, in revenge for the indignities his master inflicted on him and his wife. To quote a passage from Babel,
And then I trampled on Nikitinsky, my master. I trampled him for an hour or more, and in that time I got to know him and his life. Shooting – in my opinion – is just a way of getting rid of a fellow, to shoot him is to pardon him, and a vile compromise with yourself; with shooting you don?t get to a man?s soul, to where it is in him and how it shows itself. But usually I don?t spare myself, usually I trample my enemy for an hour or more than an hour, I want to find out about the life, what it?s like with us?
Matthew believed that it was his duty not just to kill his enemy but to trample him slowly to death ? that is the way of it with the Cossacks. But in a more general way, the central moral view of the Cossacks it seems was: Kill, or be killed.
While Babel admired the Cossack?s virtues (their bravery and endurance for example) he could never quite accept that they were morally right to act in the kinds of way described above. Yet he did not want to say they were wrong either. We might imagine Babel asking: Is the Cossack way right? But it seems Babel himself had no answer to this question.
Answer ALL the following questions ( attention See Rachels, elements of moral of philosophy chapters 2 and 3) answer the following questions in form of 300 words essay
1. Suppose you were a cultural relativist. How would you justify cultural relativism to Babel? How would you as a cultural relativist answer Babel?s question?
2. Suppose you are a subjectivist. How would you justify subjectivism to Babel? How would you as a subjectivist answer Babel?s question?
3. Suppose you are an emotivist. How would you justify emotivism to Babel? How would you as an emotivist answer Babel?s question?
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