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Moral Ambiguities



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  #61  
Old August 18th, 2007, 3:19 pm
CosmaComet  Undisclosed.gif CosmaComet is offline
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

I actually was happy with Harry's "Crucio" spell It was a short glimpse at how powerful he could be in defense. Its one of the few times we are allowed to see how powerful his magic is, as opposed to his usual plethera of spells.

His crucio did alot to that guy. So, maybe we under-estimate Harry's spell strength when others are in danger.


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  #62  
Old August 18th, 2007, 4:54 pm
lunarsphere  Undisclosed.gif lunarsphere is offline
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

How about the ambiguity of how goblins should be treated? The author did not seem to maintain her usual egalitarian idealism there, the goblins can be very brutal and underhand and even Hermione does not care for them much.

I wonder how the Death Eaters viewed centaurs, merpeople and the like.


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  #63  
Old August 18th, 2007, 9:53 pm
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

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Originally Posted by Humble_Badger View Post
I am not sure I understand your comment.

Where in the real world is it desirable to be known as duplicitous, sneaky, and dishonest?
Who's talking about duplicity? It's a simple matter that in many business and interactions success comes down to successful use of the language and if you can't or choose not to cover your words appropriately. People who don't grasp or ignore this are setting themselves up for a cropper.


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  #64  
Old August 23rd, 2007, 8:53 am
Wright1771  Undisclosed.gif Wright1771 is offline
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

Yes, the Crucio curse of Harry's was great! And, as he said what Bella said, that you had to enjoy it.....well, Harry did enjoy it! Yes, his magic is strong, as the trio reached the forrest, and Harry fired his Patronus, and it filled the sky!
With 'the language', so what.....just watch a TV programme, there is so much 'bad language' shown....it's glad I'm broad minded!


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  #65  
Old August 23rd, 2007, 9:05 pm
fruitia pickleweed  Female.gif fruitia pickleweed is offline
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

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Originally Posted by Wab View Post
Who's talking about duplicity? It's a simple matter that in many business and interactions success comes down to successful use of the language and if you can't or choose not to cover your words appropriately. People who don't grasp or ignore this are setting themselves up for a cropper.
That is certainly true in a contract or a court of law, and in an Unbreakable Vow, no doubt. In daily life, I think people differ on what counts as lying.

Some people (say, Group One) only count the literal meaning of words. They consider it the listener's or reader's job to examine the literal meaning of words through a microscope and even then -- caveat emptor! It's a dog-eat-dog world! You have to work on the assumption that the other party will cheat you if possible.

Other people (say, Group Two) count the non-verbal aspcts as part of the communication: the unspoken implications that a reasonable person would assume to be meant, the setting of the communication, tone of voice, etc. For people who think like this, what makes it lying is the intent to deceive. For them, the relevant sayings are, "A gentleman's word is his bond," and "Let your yea be yea."

Life is perfectly possible and more pleasant (some of us think) among people who agree to the Two definition, although we have to be aware of the Ones. (As the saying goes, "Be wise as serpents, harmless as doves.")

Fred warned Harry that Griphook belongs to Group One. Harry then acted in a Group One way toward Griphook.

Fair's fair?

Maybe.

When people come into an interaction with different views in this, it causes problems. At first One has the advantage, and Two gets tricked! "Fool me once, shame on you," says the cheated Two. But, "Fool me twice, shame on me." Two is angry at the violation of trust. At an absolute minimum, Two will act like a One when deadline with One again, and will try to trick him back. Two may also refuse to have anything to do with One, and One loses Two's business. Or Two may even make it his mission to get back at One, triggering a feud.

This is surely part of how relations between wizards and goblins got so strained. Harry ends up intending to manipulate Griphook just as Griphook would have cynically predicted. The Trio convince Griphook of their good intentions, using their concern for house elves, even pumping up their devotion to SPEW, just to get him where Harry wants him. Actually it's rather similar to the way Hermione used the Centaurs in HPB, and they didn't like it either.

I got the feeling that JKR thought this kind of systematic deceit was okay even though she was very careful to have Hermione pay for any stolen food, which to me is kind of like straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. What I'd call a moral ambiguity.

Harry felt bad about deceiving Griphook, to his credit, and got away alive only by luck, and lost the sword anyway -- but somehow I didn't get the sense that JKR had a real problem with it as there were no real negative consequences to the deceit. Negative consequences would have entailed, I think, being worse off than if the choice had been honesty. As it was, there were no consequences to the deceit, any different from the consequences of being honest might have been. The plot point, for me, evaporated there.



Last edited by fruitia pickleweed; August 23rd, 2007 at 9:09 pm.
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  #66  
Old August 23rd, 2007, 10:40 pm
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

Agreed.

Just want to bring back the point that JKR has said these were not "moral tales" as it be.

It also points out the fact (just as in real life) that sometimes even when we don't like it the "end justifies the means" and "for the greater good" are good reasons to detain people, torture, kill, drop bombs, invade countries, destroy governments, profiling, invasion of privacy, etc. etc. Specially when you are in a war environment, killing more enemies, will make you a hero regardless of the way in which you achieve your kills.

"Kill one person they call you a murderer, kill a million they'll call you a conquerer"

If you don't agree that this is the world we live in then you obviously live in utopia.


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  #67  
Old August 24th, 2007, 6:18 am
Phil_Stone  Undisclosed.gif Phil_Stone is offline
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

To willingly cause another to hold beliefs one knows or believes to be false is the moral equivelant of a lie, regardless of the veracity, or limited scope of one's words. Whether one specifically makes false claims is irrelevant compared to ones intentions. As Dumbledore would say, our choices define us.

To suggest that all ethics is situational is to ignore the need of a value trandscenedent enough to guide the resolution of those situations. It might not even be coherent, but it would have to give a "Why " to how to resolve the situation. Even a value as lame as self-interest offers a foundation.

Plenty of people have won in the short term but lost in the long term by treating all of life as a game. But many have never been called to task for it. How does that validate it ethically? The point to remember is that those who decieve depend upon the efforts of the others who maintain truth telling and honesty as the norm. As Kant would say, Lies have no sense (or value) apart from backround conditions of honesty. If everyone did treat Morality as just a game, then the game would be much different, along the lines of Hobbes, " nasty, brutish and short." The "Rush Hour Traffic Drivng Game" illustrates this pretty well.

What seems to be confusing people about what JKR means us to take away is that there are many different characters, each with their own subtly different morality. Lupin's notion about killing in war was clearly widely held, both here and in the book. It suggests that those killing in the defense of Hogwarts were not necessarily evil as the Deatheaters were. But if JKR wanted to validate Lupin's comment, it would have been by having one of the trio kill someone. The fact that they apparently managed to get thropugh the war without killing anyone, nor relying upon others to do it in their absense, means that JKR has not endorsed Lupin's notion so much as endorsed the idea that heros (like Lupin) need not be perfect, so long as they try their best. And this is certainly a recurring theme in the series.


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  #68  
Old August 25th, 2007, 6:12 am
fruitia pickleweed  Female.gif fruitia pickleweed is offline
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil_Stone View Post
The fact that they apparently managed to get thropugh the war without killing anyone, nor relying upon others to do it in their absense, means that JKR has not endorsed Lupin's notion so much as endorsed the idea that heros (like Lupin) need not be perfect, so long as they try their best. And this is certainly a recurring theme in the series.

Hm. Interesting point and well put.


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  #69  
Old August 25th, 2007, 6:29 am
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

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Originally Posted by Phil_Stone View Post
What seems to be confusing people about what JKR means us to take away is that there are many different characters, each with their own subtly different morality. Lupin's notion about killing in war was clearly widely held, both here and in the book. It suggests that those killing in the defense of Hogwarts were not necessarily evil as the Deatheaters were. But if JKR wanted to validate Lupin's comment, it would have been by having one of the trio kill someone. The fact that they apparently managed to get thropugh the war without killing anyone, nor relying upon others to do it in their absense, means that JKR has not endorsed Lupin's notion so much as endorsed the idea that heros (like Lupin) need not be perfect, so long as they try their best. And this is certainly a recurring theme in the series.

It is very likely that a member of the trio did kill someone - as I explain below - and I believe this highlighted the notion that killing in self-defense is morally acceptable.

Lupin did not endorse killing. Lupin's reply when Harry asked him directly if he should have killed Stanpike was an emphatic 'Of course not'. Lupin knows killing damages the soul.

Lupin's first statement recommended a stunning curse if Harry wasn't prepared to kill - but Lupin, who loved Harry and felt his saftey was paramount (which is why he lectured on the over-use of the disarming spell), was trying to explain to Harry that killing in self-defense was not the same as killing in other circumstances.

Harry also asked if Lupin believed stunning would be better even if it leads to death, Lupin's answer was lost when Hagrid fell. However, in my opinion, it would have been the same: Yes - in self defense. better the DE than Harry. Harry was the prime target, AK's coming his way from all angles - returning fire is self-defense in such a circumstance and really one's only alternative (morally, all right).

JKR in fact answers Harry's question that went unanswered by Lupin shortly thereafter. Tonks tells everyone that Ron had sent a stunning curse that hit a DE right in the head while they were in flight - which likely meant the DE fell to his death - so I would say the trio didn't get out of the war without killing anyone and no one heaped censor on Ron for what he had done (including Harry). In fact, Hermione hugging Ron and indicating that he had done a 'good' thing (and Ron's response), is indicative of what Lupin was trying to say to Harry - in self defense it is okay. Harry's silence at that time indicates he got the point (would he have rather Ron not issued the curse and have died? No). Killing in self-defense when you are under attack is necessary, morally acceptable and the only way to come out alive was the message in my opinion.


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  #70  
Old May 1st, 2010, 12:15 pm
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

Quote:
Originally Posted by lunarsphere View Post
How about the ambiguity of how goblins should be treated? The author did not seem to maintain her usual egalitarian idealism there, the goblins can be very brutal and underhand and even Hermione does not care for them much.

I wonder how the Death Eaters viewed centaurs, merpeople and the like.
I never considered her message to be very serious anyway.


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  #71  
Old May 1st, 2010, 2:54 pm
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

Harry Potter is basically a good story which by and large have healthy storylines. While it describes war and wizarding battle, it is not discussed in gruesome details. In war, people die. So it is in the Hogwarts battles. But none of the deaths are describe in a violent and gruesome way. As for Harry as a main character, he won't want to kill if he can help it. It struck me even how Harry, facing the ultimate evil, Voldemort, won't even use the killing curse, but just the expelliarmus. We don't really know the good guy characters we like (Luna, Ron, Hermione, Neville, George, Mr and Mrs Weasley), had killed how many. But the author is also not wanting to emphasis this. I guess how many they did killed was not the main purpose at that point.

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  #72  
Old May 1st, 2010, 6:52 pm
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

Quote:
Originally Posted by fruitia pickleweed View Post
Several moral or ethical messages that I thought Rowling was trying to convey through the first 6 books and part of DH seemed to fall apart by the end.

"For the greater good" is presented as a cover slogan for a totalitarian tyranny. Yet bythe end of DH, it seems to be Dumbledore's working motto.

Dumbledore seemed to show exemplary respect for others, even when he strongly disagreed with their choices. Courtesy was a matter of principle, even at the point of death. And then he turned out to be using the others as tools, even Harry -- not respectfully at all.
I don't see that "for the greater good" was in any way presented as a "cover slogan". The misuse of the concept was introduced late in the series, when we learn details of the relationship between Dumbledore & Grindelwald, their shared interest in power, Grindelwald's conviction that their plan was "for the greater good", and Dumbledore's choice to believe that although deep in his heart he knew better.

Dumbledore's use of people toward the defeat of Voldemort and the DE's is based on what he knows, both evidence (Harry's unique role, horcruxes, etc.) and Dumbledore's knowledge of the people he enlists in the fight. Harry realizes this after viewing the pensieve memories, knowing that he will choose to walk to his death because he wants to defeat Voldemort -- he realizes Dumbledore bothered to get to know him, Ron, Hermione, Snape, and countless others, putting them in positions to make the right choice. Dumbledore believed he could trust those people to ultimately make the choices that Dumbledore saw as leading to the best chance of defeating Voldemort.

Quote:
Originally Posted by frutia pickleweed
Killing is bad, unnatural, and highly dangerous because it rips the soul apart. Dumbledore tries to protect Draco from such a disaster. Yet, everyone goes at it happily in the Big Battle, with no apparent concern for their souls.
Actually, it's murder that is depicted as an act against nature, tearing the soul, presumably because it's unnecessary in any sense and consciously decided upon, often planned, by the killer. I never got the impression in the series that killing is condoned either, except in self-defense as in war. I find no scene where "everyone goes at it happily in the Big Battle" -- the scenes are written with an air of chaos, anxiety and at times overwhelming numbness (as in HBP when Harry runs through the damaged school and slips on blood, fearing who may be injured or dead, as he chases Snape out to the grounds).


Quote:
Originally Posted by frutia picklewood
Harry took a principled stand against the incarceration of Stan Shunpike without due process. Yet in the end, it appears that Stan may have been a Death Eater -- at least the matter is left very unclear, so that people on this forum are arguing about it. Was this an unimportant matter to Rowling after all, or did she mean Harry was wrong?

Harry wouldn't cause Stan's death just because Stan was in the way. He stood up to Lupin about it. "That's Voldemort's job." At that point, I was thinking Harry has the strength of ten because his heart is pure. But later events make me doubt it.

Harry chose to lie to Griphook. (He had alternatives, at least he could have tried them. He could have made it a condition that Griphook would lend him back the sword for a specified period, for instance.) If Griphook had actually been faithful, Harry would have, essentially, cheated Griphook. Is Rowling condoning that too, "for the greater good"?
I have a different view of "pure of heart". In my view, all of Harry's big "right choice vs. easy choice" were all made from his good heart. The Griphook conversation in DH was always going to be difficult. Bill explained to Harry that Goblins see things differently -- for example, even though they made a sword and then sold it to someone else, they still see themselves as the rightful owner regardless -- and Harry needed to temper his wording. There is no indication anywhere in the book that Harry would not have kept his word to Griphook, only that he held back when he would give the sword back. It's also important to note that Griphook did not decide right away, and Harry didn't try to force Griphook into anything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by frutia picklewood
Harry uses the Unforgiveables. And he "means them." Maybe he had no choice at Gringotts, but after that? Is "meaning" an unforgiveable curse a good thing to Rowling? Are they so unforgiveable after all?

In Rowling's world, in short, do the means justify the ends after all? Were the principles I thought so meaningful for Harry's character just plot points or just qualmish scruples to be overcome?
Harry's "meaning" the crucio in DH had more to do with his anger driving the curse. In no way did Harry want to cause pain solely for the enjoyment of it (like Voldy or Bella). In my opinion, even at that point in DH Harry didn't really know what it was to "really mean" a cruciatus curse.


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  #73  
Old May 5th, 2010, 2:56 am
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

Interesting thread idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fruitia pickleweed View Post
Several moral or ethical messages that I thought Rowling was trying to convey through the first 6 books and part of DH seemed to fall apart by the end.
I disagree, and will endeavor to explain why I think as I do.

Quote:
"For the greater good" is presented as a cover slogan for a totalitarian tyranny. Yet by the end of DH, it seems to be Dumbledore's working motto.
Why not Harry's? It is why he walked into the Forest, is it not? And why he returned from death? But what the books present as moral, it seems to me, is putting the greater good ahead of one's own selfish interests. Grindelwald didn't.

Quote:
Dumbledore seemed to show exemplary respect for others, even when he strongly disagreed with their choices. Courtesy was a matter of principle, even at the point of death. And then he turned out to be using the others as tools, even Harry -- not respectfully at all.
I agree that if this were the case, it would mess up the moral message of the series. I do not believe this is the case. We are shown Harry's doubts about Dumbledore, we are set up to believe, like Harry, that Dumbledore has betrayed him, but in the end (after the revelations of "King's Cross"), it is my opinion that like Harry, we are to realize all was not as it seemed at the darkest hour. Harry does not seem to think he was used, in the end, and neither do I.

Quote:
Killing is bad, unnatural, and highly dangerous because it rips the soul apart. Dumbledore tries to protect Draco from such a disaster. Yet, everyone goes at it happily in the Big Battle, with no apparent concern for their souls.
Actually, in HBP when the idea is first introduced, Slughorn says this first of murder, which is not the same as killing. He later refers to killing, but I always understood this to also mean murder, as it was in the same conversation.

Draco, had he killed Dumbledore, would have been acting as an assassin, murdering Albus in cold blood on Voldemort's orders. Bad, unnatural, rips the soul apart. The characters in the battle were acting in defense of themselves and others, commonly considered a justification for killing if the opposition is also using deadly force. Thus, they were not murdering.

Quote:
Harry took a principled stand against the incarceration of Stan Shunpike without due process. Yet in the end, it appears that Stan may have been a Death Eater -- at least the matter is left very unclear, so that people on this forum are arguing about it. Was this an unimportant matter to Rowling after all, or did she mean Harry was wrong?
Would a man making a principled stand against the incarceration without due process of a guilty man be acting any less morally if the person incarcerated proved to be guilty? I don't think so. Thus, I don't think Stan's guilt or innocence is at all important, as he is a very minor character.

Quote:
He stood up to Lupin about it. "That's Voldemort's job." At that point, I was thinking Harry has the strength of ten because his heart is pure. But later events make me doubt it.
I consider the rightness of Harry's position to be reaffirmed by his manner of final victory. He used Expelliarmus, precisely the spell Lupin told him not to use anymore.

Quote:
Harry chose to lie to Griphook. (He had alternatives, at least he could have tried them. He could have made it a condition that Griphook would lend him back the sword for a specified period, for instance.) If Griphook had actually been faithful, Harry would have, essentially, cheated Griphook. Is Rowling condoning that too, "for the greater good"?
Why do you think she is? Is it because Harry did it? I don't find Harry to be written as a character completely without faults. I did not get the impression the books specifically lauded or excused this particular choice of Harry's.

Quote:
Harry uses the Unforgiveables. And he "means them." Maybe he had no choice at Gringotts, but after that? Is "meaning" an unforgiveable curse a good thing to Rowling? Are they so unforgiveable after all?
I did not like Harry's use of Crucio against Amycus, and I did not find that it was presented as a good thing. It is, on the contrary, presented as something Harry did in the grip of powerful negative emotions. To me, again, his dealings with Voldemort (all after this scene) suggest not using these spells is the better course.

I do, however, not think that there is any action presented by the series as unforgivable, despite the name of these three curses. DH canon tells us that even a murderer (one guilty of the worst, most unnatural, most spiritually damaging crime) can heal if they experience true remorse for their action.


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  #74  
Old May 5th, 2010, 8:12 am
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

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Originally Posted by arithmancer View Post
Why not Harry's? It is why he walked into the Forest, is it not? And why he returned from death? But what the books present as moral, it seems to me, is putting the greater good ahead of one's own selfish interests. Grindelwald didn't.
I think that another major shift in the "greater good idea" in DH is the move from sacrifice to self-sacrifice - an idea on which both Christianity and Mahayana Buddhism were built. Grindelwald was willing to sacrifice others for the greater good, but Harry was only ever willing to sacrifice himself, much like Jesus or a Bodhisattva.


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  #75  
Old May 5th, 2010, 10:31 am
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

Quote:
Originally Posted by fruitia pickleweed View Post
Killing is bad, unnatural, and highly dangerous because it rips the soul apart. Dumbledore tries to protect Draco from such a disaster. Yet, everyone goes at it happily in the Big Battle, with no apparent concern for their souls.?
There is a difference between murder and killing in self-defence. In war, killing is allowed because it's either you or the other soldier: you kill or die. Murder is premeditated and there's no one threatening to kill you: the motives are wrong.

And the world is not divided into black and white. JKR portrayed Harry as idealistic, but human, and Harry realizes that by the end. Sometimes, you must choose between the lesser of two evils, because your options are limited. In the case of Griphook, Harry needs the sword to stop Voldy, and so lies about the agreement. What is the lesser evil, to lie, or to allow Voldy to rule the world? JKR portrays a realistic moral world, one just as fractured and flawed as our own, and so holds up a mirror. What we see there is our reality, as much as we may try to idealistically deny it.

Here's a practical example. You're on a ship that is sinking. There are one hundred people aboard and you're the Captain. All communication has failed and the seas are rough. No one else can handle the ship, only you. There is a means to save the ship, but it is in a flooded corridor, too far for anybody to swim there and back. You have the crew available, and one happens to be a good swimmer. However, she is 16. What do you do, order her to her death and save the ship (remember, you as Captain cannot go on your own), or allow the ship to sink and take your chances on the open sea? In HP, DD ordered Mr Weasley to guard the DoM, placing him in direct danger. DD had the choice: put Mr Weasley in harms way, or give Voldemort the key to victory? He put Mr Weasley in harm's way, because denying Voldy that knowledge was more important than Mr Weasley's life. I would order the crewmember to her death, and I would have done the same as DD.

That 's reality, and that's what JKR gives us.


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  #76  
Old May 5th, 2010, 6:21 pm
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

there were no real ambiguities throughout the series. there were, however, shifts in attitude and situations where people made the wrong choice to prove a point.

harry useing the unforgivable curses, the students useing killing force on others in the final battle, and the malfoys defecting, were all situations where choices were made and the outcome proved whether it was right or wrong to do that. harry useing the curses was wrong because he isnt that kind of person and he knows it. the killing force in the final battle was a self defense issue. if you are being threatened with death in your home, you can use killing force on an invader to defend yourself and others. as for the malfoys defecting, i dont know why they did that but they seem to have meant it and it kept them from serving life sentences in azkaban. they clearly made the right choice in defecting.


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  #77  
Old May 6th, 2010, 2:04 pm
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

Quote:
Originally Posted by LewsTherin View Post
He put Mr Weasley in harm's way, because denying Voldy that knowledge was more important than Mr Weasley's life. I would order the crewmember to her death, and I would have done the same as DD.
You would have no right to order anyone to their death, IMO. You would have to present the situation to the crew member and let her choose whether she wants to do it or not. This is what Dumbledore should have done as well. In Harry's case he told him he had to sacrifice himself when it was already too late for him to do anything else or attempt to find another way of destroying the Hocruxes. DD knew this. He knew Harry would sacrifice himself based on Harry's personality but he also backed him into a corner by revealing this need for sacrifice when it was already too late to try something else. Dumbledore did, in my opinion, act like a puppetteer. He sacrificed himself as well but the only difference is that he did it out of his own will and by his choice. Harry did it because there was no other way. There wasn't even any chance of trying to find another way. Harry's self sacrifice was the right thing to do, morally speaking, but sacrificing someone is wrong. The person has the right to choose whether they want to do it or not. Harry had the right to know about this and not be manipulated by Dumbledore into doing it.


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  #78  
Old May 6th, 2010, 3:02 pm
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

I think you are trying to box everything into the right category here...what is good and what is bad. But life isn't like that. We are all hypocrites, we all react differently to different situations. The world isn't painted black and white.

As for Dumbledore not wanting to rip Draco's soul apart, yet people were happy to kill in the final battle: You have to remember, those who were on the good side who killed did it for the right reasons. They were HELPING thw wizarding world, they weren't killing in cold blood like Voldemort did or his death eaters and therefore I doubt their souls would be ripped.
Just look at your basic Law (which im studying currently):
A) You barge into someones house, and shoot them in the head for no apparent reason other than you wanted to - This is MURDER.
B) Somebody is attacking you and your friends and it's either kill or be killed so you kill that person - This is SELF DEFENCE.


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Old May 7th, 2010, 12:31 am
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

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Originally Posted by Trixa View Post
You would have no right to order anyone to their death, IMO. You would have to present the situation to the crew member and let her choose whether she wants to do it or not. This is what Dumbledore should have done as well. In Harry's case he told him he had to sacrifice himself when it was already too late for him to do anything else or attempt to find another way of destroying the Hocruxes. DD knew this. He knew Harry would sacrifice himself based on Harry's personality but he also backed him into a corner by revealing this need for sacrifice when it was already too late to try something else. Dumbledore did, in my opinion, act like a puppetteer. He sacrificed himself as well but the only difference is that he did it out of his own will and by his choice. Harry did it because there was no other way. There wasn't even any chance of trying to find another way. Harry's self sacrifice was the right thing to do, morally speaking, but sacrificing someone is wrong. The person has the right to choose whether they want to do it or not. Harry had the right to know about this and not be manipulated by Dumbledore into doing it.
If the crew member does not go, then someone else has to go, or everybody dies. The crew member would know that; it would be part of the job. And if she goes, she does it by her own choice: no-one can force her. She does it because there is no other way, and she needs to decide what the lives of the crew and passengers are worth. But you are right, on a civilian vessel I would not have the authority to order her to do that, but on a military vessel I would.

And DD did act like a puppeteer, yes. He acted as he believed he needed to. Personally, I would have told Harry earlier, as I think Harry still would have done what he needed to. Forcing someone to sacrifice themselves is wrong, but if no-one wants to go, then it may be necessary to force someone to go so that everyone else might live. DD would have done it himself if he could have, but what other option was there? Harry was the only one who could. And DD couldn't take any chances, so whether Harry went by his will or was manipulated, it had to be done. I dunno, if the lives of millions depended on you sacrificing yourself, could you really be selfish enough to say no? Could it be that JKR asks that question of the reader as well as Harry? I don't think anyone would know how they would answer until they were in that situation, but sometimes there isn't a better way. I wish there was, but that's life.

There is actually a real-world parallel to this. During the Chernobyl disaster, soldiers were drafted in to remove some of the highly radioactive elements from the damaged reactor. The job was potentially fatal, and they could only work for a minute or so at a time. Asking one man why he did it, he said that if he didn't, someone else would have to. The job had to be done, and he couldn't ask others to do the job in his place. My point is that sometimes, in exceptional circumstances, such sacrifices are necessary, and sometimes the price is worth paying.


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Old May 8th, 2010, 6:35 pm
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trixa View Post
You would have no right to order anyone to their death, IMO. You would have to present the situation to the crew member and let her choose whether she wants to do it or not. This is what Dumbledore should have done as well. In Harry's case he told him he had to sacrifice himself when it was already too late for him to do anything else or attempt to find another way of destroying the Hocruxes. DD knew this. He knew Harry would sacrifice himself based on Harry's personality but he also backed him into a corner by revealing this need for sacrifice when it was already too late to try something else. Dumbledore did, in my opinion, act like a puppetteer. He sacrificed himself as well but the only difference is that he did it out of his own will and by his choice. Harry did it because there was no other way. There wasn't even any chance of trying to find another way. Harry's self sacrifice was the right thing to do, morally speaking, but sacrificing someone is wrong. The person has the right to choose whether they want to do it or not. Harry had the right to know about this and not be manipulated by Dumbledore into doing it.
Dumbledore did not force Harry to sacrifice himself, he only gave Harry the information about the unintentional horcrux. Dumbledore didn't create the circumstance of Harry's situation, Voldemort did, but Harry still had to make his choice. The fact remains that Harry had to choose to sacrifice himself, to hide that fact from his friends, and deliberately take that walk into Voldemort's camp; or if he chose not to, he would have to live with the fact that his decision would mean countless more deaths and Voldemort controlling the entire wizarding world. That was Harry's choice, and he made it because of who he is. Neither Harry nor Dumbledore had control over the cirumstances that set Harry on the path to that decision. We see a foreshadowing of how Harry will choose in the end in this conversation in HBP, when Harry is under the impression that the prophecy means he has no choice:

HBP, Chapter 23, pages 511-512 US hardcover
"But sir," said Harry, making valiant efforts not to sound argumentative, "I've got to try and kill him, or --"

"Got to?" said Dumbledore. "Of course you've got to! But not because of the prophecy! Because you, yourself, will never rest until you've tried! We both know it! Imagine, please, just for a moment, that you had never heard that prophecy! How would you feel about Voldemort now? Think!"

Harry watched Dumbldore striding up and down in front of him, and thought. He thought of his mother, his father, and Sirius. He thought of Cedric Diggory. He thought of all the terrible deeds he knew Lord Voldemort had done. A flame seemed to leap inside his chest, searing his throat.

"I'd want him finished," Harry said quietly. "And I'd want to do it."

"Of course you would!" cried Dumbledore. "You see, the prophecy does not mean you have to do anything. But the prophecy caused Lord Voldemort to mark you as his equal...In other words, you are free to choose your way, quite free to turn your back on the prophecy! But Voldemort continues to set store by the prophecy. He will continue to hunt you...which makes it certain, really, that --"

"That one of us is going to end up killing the other," said Harry.

"Yes."

But he understood at last what Dumbledore had been trying to tell him. It was, he thought, the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high. Some people, perhaps, would say that there was little to choose between the two ways, but Dumbledore knew -- and so do I, thought Harry, with a rush of fierce pride, and so did my parents -- that there was all the difference in the world.




Often we are faced with choices in life where the circumstances that brought us to that point were not in our control. It may seem we have been backed into a corner. And do the consequences of our choice figure into the equation? Of course. But the choice of how to react, whether or not to intercede, put ourselves in harm's way, etc. is always a choice we make. Harry always had a choice as well.


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