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[-] ilinamorato@lemmy.world 83 points 4 months ago

My opinion is threefold:

  1. It is always ethical to not starve to death. (Caveat: assuming you are not directly harming someone else) If the only job available to you is making supplies for the military, don't beat yourself up. We live in a capitalist hellscape, you need to pay rent, you need to buy food, you need health insurance, you need to be able to have vacations and save for retirement and do fun things from time to time. If you can do anything to mitigate that harm--participate in demonstrations, donate to aid organizations, etc--do that; but if you're not in a situation to be able to do those things, you're not being unethical. You're just doing what you can.

  2. It is always ethical to do less harm. If your company makes support equipment for military applications--desk chairs, for example, or toilet paper--your job is more ethical than the job making, you know, bombs or bullets or napalm or whatever. A job making things that are not inherently harmful but can be used in the course of causing harm-- well, let's be honest, that's every job.

  3. A job in military supply is as ethical as the company you work for and the military they sell to. If your company is selling smart bombs to Russia's military, try to get out. But if your company is selling to a military that uses the products of your labor to mount a defense against an invading force, what you're doing might even be helping to reduce death.

But overall, "ethicalness" is not a binary, and it's not the same in every situation.

[-] Primarily0617@kbin.social 14 points 4 months ago* (last edited 4 months ago)

you need to be able to have vacations and save for retirement and do fun things from time to time

ahem actually people only need to exist and survive until they work themselves to death getting tangled in the gears of my spinning jennys

[-] greencactus@lemmy.world 7 points 4 months ago

Very good criterias! I think OP posted a great question, and your philosophy seems to be a very interesting merge of a virtue-based approach (that A/B is always good/bad) and an utilitarian one. I like it at a lot :)

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[-] infinitevalence@discuss.online 40 points 4 months ago

If the choice is starve or work for this company, then yes its ethical.

If your skills and experience can transfer to other companies and jobs, then no its not ethical IMO.

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[-] NeoNachtwaechter@lemmy.world 29 points 4 months ago

As soon as you are asking this seriously, the answer for you personally is: better don't.

You don't know the future, you can never know what will be done with the things you have built and who will be doing it.

If you are a young person, you are simply looking to make money (and maybe don't do much harm at the same time, but that's second priority), and I think that's quite OK for a while.

The older you get, the more weight you put on the question: what are you really doing there every day and for whose benefit?

[-] Kor@lemm.ee 15 points 4 months ago* (last edited 4 months ago)

Counterpoint: what about all the weapons used by Ukraine to defend itself and western democracy against Russian aggression and imperialism? Should those not have been made?

Edit: Editing my most top level comment to point out possible subsequent vote brigading. When this post was only half a day old I received way more upvotes than the people I debated. Now that this post has gotten older the ratio is closer to neutral without any new comments pointing to any flaws in my argument. Hence, I think my debate partners felt the need to involve their equally misled friends to downvote my arguments and upvote their previously negatively voted comments back into the positives. Seems very inorganic to me.

Edit 2: The above edit is mostly meant for my discussion thread with NeoNachtwaechter.

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[-] Atin@lemmy.world 24 points 4 months ago

Sure. Every country has a right to defend itself. Most of the time it isn't the tool that isn't moral but how it is put to use.

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[-] TheButtonJustSpins@infosec.pub 21 points 4 months ago

I feel like this really depends on your options. Ethics are less crucial when your options are lesser as well.

If you're choosing between equally paying jobs in military contracting vs saving lives? Pretty easy choice to me. If you're choosing between doing manual labor for a military supplier vs your family being on the street? Also a pretty easy choice.

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[-] AFKBRBChocolate@lemmy.world 19 points 4 months ago

I work for an aerospace and defense contractor. The vast majority of my activities over the years has been for non-military space flight, but not all of it, I've also worked on torpedos, missile defense, and other military systems.

When I started working for the company, it was on the space shuttle project, so the military part didn't even occur to me (though the shuttle did place some military payloads). When I was first asked to support the military side, I found myself doing some soul searching, and I decided the main question I had to ask myself was, "Should the United States have weapons or a military?" I pretty quickly decided the answer was yes.

Does that mean I agree with every military action the government has taken? No, far from it. But there have also been many I do agree with, and I for sure believe the country needs a strong military.

So yes, I believe it's ethical.

[-] mriormro@lemmy.world 18 points 4 months ago
[-] jet@hackertalks.com 17 points 4 months ago

How far down the rabbit hole do you want to go for collateral ethical responsibility?

If you work on the power grid that has a weapons manufacturer are you responsible for every use of that weapon?

If you provide clean water, and workers of a weapons factory drink that water, are you now responsible for the weapons?

If you design a weapon safety system, to prevent misfires, are you not responsible for the other uses of the weapon?

If you make a composite steel alloy, and some of the purchasers of that alloy are weapons manufacturers etc etc etc

[-] WormFood@lemmy.world 13 points 4 months ago

in my opinion this is very straightforward. the people working directly on power, water and materials don't have any control over how those things are used and often don't/can't know what they're being used for. however, at some point, a decision is made - for example, someone at the company that makes the steel alloy decides to sell it to raytheon - and so whoever made that decision is responsible.

and yes, if you work on a weapon safety system, you are working on an essential part of that weapon and so are responsible for its use

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[-] sailingbythelee@lemmy.world 16 points 4 months ago

I don't think it is inherently unethical to work for a defense supplier, but it obviously depends on the country it is supplying. We in the West certainly need a strong defense industry. China and Russia both have publicly declared their intention to conquer other countries. Just ask Ukraine or Taiwan. Or Europe. Europe can't properly support Ukraine because its defense industry is so fragmented, politicized and atrophied.

[-] AbouBenAdhem@lemmy.world 13 points 4 months ago

We in the West certainly need a strong defense industry.

But our defense industry sells arms to more or less anyone willing to pay. Most types of arms have basically become commodities, and the net effect of anyone producing more is that arms become cheaper and more accessible worldwide.

[-] sailingbythelee@lemmy.world 8 points 4 months ago

I'm no expert on arms control, but I'm pretty sure the industry in the West can only sell to approved countries. But, yes, I take your point that there is always some form of arms race happening in the world and keeping the arms industry going means having to sell more arms, which will be used to kill people at some point. Unfortunately, we still need a defense industry.

[-] OhmsLawn@lemmy.world 11 points 4 months ago

Good point.

I'd think that the work these folks in Ukraine are doing would be an example of ethical (and, my God, it must be fulfilling) defense work.

[-] wildbus8979@sh.itjust.works 6 points 4 months ago* (last edited 4 months ago)

We in the West certainly need a strong defense industry. China and Russia both have publicly declared their intention to conquer other countries. Just ask Ukraine or Taiwan.

But just don't ask Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Iraq, Lybia, Panama, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon, Yemen... am I right?

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[-] electric_nan@lemmy.ml 16 points 4 months ago
[-] WormFood@lemmy.world 16 points 4 months ago

i mean, i probably wouldn't resent you for mopping the floors at BAE. but if you actually design or build the missiles, yes, that is unethical

a lot of people are using the example of ukraine to say 'sometimes the missiles are for the greater good', and while i would agree with that specific example, you don't have control over where your missiles go. russian tank, yemeni refugee, etc

i also think saying 'the parts will be made anyway' is kind of a dodge, the question isn't whether the parts will be made, it's whether you will make them

[-] Linkerbaan@lemmy.world 16 points 4 months ago
[-] 100_kg_90_de_belin@feddit.it 15 points 4 months ago

As a rule of thumb... no.

[-] PeepinGoodArgs@reddthat.com 14 points 4 months ago

No. I left the military because I couldn't morally justify staying in.

[-] GrymEdm@lemmy.world 13 points 4 months ago* (last edited 4 months ago)

It's a complex question, but I think the short answer is it depends on if your country has safeguards in place to control where that manufactured equipment goes. A few months ago I watched a video interview of a US State Department official who publicly resigned because he felt those safeguards (specifically laws of war and laws of proportionality) had been bypassed during recent arms transfer to Israel. I could see someone quitting their military manufacturing or engineering jobs for the same reasons. Whether or not you agree with how your nation's arms are being used is a matter of personal ethics and involves things like political accountability.

I know I want my country to have self-defense capabilities, and that means having a well-supplied military. Thus I support at least some arms manufacturing. I very much dislike the idea of it being entangled with major economic factors because I don't want war to make economic sense - i.e. "drive the industry". My guess is a lot of people worldwide would like to see less arms-for-profit trading because it makes military industrialists rich at the expense of weapons spreading around the world and often causing harm to innocent people.

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[-] Mastema@infosec.pub 11 points 4 months ago

I think this question boils down to this: Do your actions have a net positive or a net negative affect on the world? Does working at this company in some way offset the harm that the company is doing downstream? In this case I have a hard time coming up with a reasonable way in which this might be the case. Paying you and your family to have stuff doesn't offset causing actual death and physical harm.

[-] masterspace@lemmy.ca 18 points 4 months ago* (last edited 4 months ago)

I mean ... not saying I necessarily agree, but isn't the logical counter argument being defense and deterrence?

I use to be much much more ideologically against arms production, but honestly, seeing what's happening in Ukraine has given me some pause and caused me to reflect a lot. When a tyrant like Putin can amass a huge amount of weaponry and just decide to invade and impose a totalitarian dictatorship on a neighbouring country, and the only thing that has stopped him is a mass amount of better weaponry, it muddies the moral waters a bit.

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[-] june@lemmy.world 10 points 4 months ago

I don’t think it’s ethical. But if it’s take that job or lose my house? I’ll take the job until I can find something better.

[-] PoliticallyIncorrect@lemmy.world 10 points 4 months ago
[-] BananaTrifleViolin@lemmy.world 10 points 4 months ago

No. But people have different ideas of what's ethical and what's not.

If you ask in a pro military or Conservative space you'll probably be told "yes".

You'll have to decide for yourself whether you could live with working for such a company. Everyone needs to eat and if that's your best choice for work then it may not be such an easy choice.

[-] vampire@lemmy.world 10 points 4 months ago

I don't really think you need to worry about inanimate objects seeing as they haven't been made for good or evil specifically. On the other hand, if you write software that decides who lives or dies, you have a gigantic responsibility and the blood of any accident is on your hands

[-] Netrunner@programming.dev 10 points 4 months ago
[-] scoobford@lemmy.zip 10 points 4 months ago

I don't think so, mostly because those companies are some of the worst manipulators of our democracy.

In terms of actually helping to manufacture weapons, there are necessary and ethical uses for those weapons, and you as an individual cannot choose where they go. Not an issue IMO.

[-] Carol2852@discuss.tchncs.de 9 points 4 months ago

I started in defense, but I would now after 15+ years not do any work in defense or gambling or trading. It was a good experience for me though, taught me a lot, but I wouldn't do it again now.

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[-] Kolanaki@yiffit.net 8 points 4 months ago* (last edited 4 months ago)

If it's a choice then no I don't think it's ethical. If it's the only job you can get and you absolutely need it to survive or you're facing threat of war from another country that's a harder issue.

But assuming you aren't forced to do it and it's entirely your choice in time of peace: choosing to make weapons of war isn't very ethical IMO. That's a pretty huge assumption, though. Real life is rarely so simple.

[-] InfiniWheel@lemmy.one 8 points 4 months ago

- The Good Place

[-] BeatTakeshi@lemmy.world 7 points 4 months ago

Probably fine if you are the janitor. If you are the engineer in charge of maximising "effectiveness" of weaponry well....

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[-] gitgud@lemmy.ml 7 points 4 months ago

Definitely not if you have the opportunity to work somewhere else.

[-] originalucifer@moist.catsweat.com 7 points 4 months ago

nope, not if you care about human beings. the united states especially is under no threat requiring a near trillion dollar a year 'defense'

the military-industrial complex is a jobs-welfare program, but none of them will admit they are welfare recipients.

many people can overlook their particular part as 'well, my role isnt making a bullet that will go through a human, so what i do for this company is ok'

im not that delusional.

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[-] underscore_@sopuli.xyz 7 points 4 months ago

It of course depends on the context and choice of ethics framework. If the decision is personal I like to use the shorthand: If you have the privilege to choose, then choose to build the type of future you want to live in.

[-] pineapplelover@lemm.ee 7 points 4 months ago* (last edited 4 months ago)

The problem I have with working for military contractors is you never know wtf the government is going to do with them. When Trump was elected dude wanted to nuke a hurricane. Weapons in the wrong hands is very dangerous and is the biggest concern I have. Which is also kind of why I want a meritocracy system to stop stupid shit from happening.

Anyways, I diverge. If you had no other choice than to work for a company that kills people then maybe? Lots of those guys also do space exploration or something as well so I'm sure you could find something without making weapons.

[-] Nacktmull@lemmy.world 6 points 4 months ago

Obviously not, as you might have heard, those things are used to kill people.

[-] BothsidesistFraud@lemmy.world 6 points 4 months ago

Yes. Defense is important. Pacifism is unworkable in today's geopolitical sphere. Weapons create peace.

[-] Draedron@lemmy.dbzer0.com 6 points 4 months ago

Of course not

[-] dumpsterlid@lemmy.world 6 points 4 months ago* (last edited 4 months ago)

Absolutely not.

Yes Ukraine is an example of a good use for a defense industry but US history is littered with tragedies, massacres and massive amounts of suffering from all the other bad things having a defense industry does.

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this post was submitted on 01 Mar 2024
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