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jfos's avatar

Is killing someone "wrong" in a different way than just morally?

Asked by jfos (7380points) June 18th, 2010
17 responses
“Great Question” (0points)

It is commonly accepted that one human killing another is immoral, and therefore, illegal. As far as I know, most countries have laws that punish convicted murderers with either jail time or execution.

Emotions aside, (I’m sure there are many Flutherers who have known a friend or a family member that were killed by someone, etc. and I don’t mean to belittle these potential victims…) is murder strictly immoral? It seems natural for members of the same species to compete for survival, and in some cases, this means killing peers/competition.

I assume that humans are more advanced than (generalization) the rest of earth’s animals, but we are still animals. Should there be certain factors that constitute an acceptable or unacceptable murder? Discuss.

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dpworkin's avatar

All ethics are situational. I can imagine circumstances under which I would kill someone without a moment’s regret.

jfos's avatar

@dpworkin That’s an interesting concept, “all ethics are situational.”

dpworkin's avatar

I can’t think of a way in which they are not.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@dpworkin That’s the way I was taught philosophy. Situational Ethics was taught in the 1960’s.

CMaz's avatar

So you are saying what our soldiers are doing is immoral?

Murder is immoral.

dpworkin's avatar

Murder and killing aren’t the same thing.

DominicX's avatar

I don’t see how. Describing an act as “wrong” implies morality.

Zaku's avatar

As dpworkin points out, killing and murder aren’t the same thing, and the question is tricky to answer without first defining those and/or redefining the question.

So just to further your own consideration, you might consider situations in the past where killing people was something that sometimes was socially and legally acceptable. Watch a “western” film, for example (one that isn’t polluted by righteous modern moral meanings). 120 years ago or more, in rural areas of the USA, people often carried firearms and defending oneself even in situations where it wasn’t really clear what started the fight, was justifiable homicide. Dueling used to be a semi-acceptable means of settling disagreements. In medieval times, it there was even trial by combat. Might makes right, according to some moral codes. And even many modern Hollywood films, etc.

ipso's avatar

Beside morality, it’s base “wrong” simply because it significantly increases the chances of your own demise. Now and through time immortal.

janedelila's avatar

I promised my children when they were young that if anybody ever did anything to them and told them not to tell “or else” see where I’m going with this? that I would definitely kill that person. Not to let anybody tell them that if they told that “he would get them, or their parents, or sisters” Cuz I would get them.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Killing in defence of those you love who are actually threatened with grievous harm from a known individual is something I can. The same goes for self-defence from a real and immediate threat from a known source.

For those whose love of country motivates them to join the armed forces and kill whomever their leaders say are an immediate threat to their country and the freedoms for which it stands, whether they trust their leaders or not, they must decide for themselves how they feel about their actions in battle. It is not my place to judge their actions.

For those who kill for money or the thrill of adventure, I see their actions as morally bankrupt.

anartist's avatar

Whatever a reason for “good” killing, war, self and family defense, line of duty, I suspect the act most likely changes someone inside a little or a lot in ways that they would not want, like a scarring of the “soul.”

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

By international definition, killing, by uniformed soldiers in war according to agreed rules, is not murder. By our cultures rules, killing in self defense or defense of loved ones is also not murder.

Draconess25's avatar

The only killing I see as wrong is the killing of innocents. Very few people can be considered innocent, though. I sided with Light Yagami in Death Note, so….

evandad's avatar

Killing for gain is the reason we have wars. The label is supposed to make it more civilized. The death of civilians is just collateral damage. Those lives, along with our children’s lives, pave the road to a more financially stable society.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Humans are like meerkats in a way. A meerkat that starts to live in an antisocial way could bring down the whole tribe. A meerkat that decides it can do better by itself will lose the protection of the others and the warning of predators that they give each other.

Since humans are social animals, killing to take down opposition is considered antisocial behaviour, and therefore we have decided it is a behaviour we should punish. A human alone in the wild is quite vulnerable, but a human in a social setting is extremely powerful.


I’d only kill someone if that person was going to kill me or my loved one. But to “murder” someone implies intention for your own purpose. Yes we are still animals, but to take another person’s life by murdering him/her is always wrong, because you are taking away another person’s right to live.

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