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Working for a Defence Contractor - Amoral? Watch

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    I've been looking through potential careers after taking a physics/engineering deegree and I've found that defence companies (such as BAE Systems and Raytheon) are a big employer of these types of graduates.

    The salary is certainly attractive and no doubt the work is genuinely interesting (developing the latest technology, making things go bang etc.)

    We've all heard of private military contractors (Blackwater springs to mind) in the Iraq war who were basically 'hired guns' making several times the average soldier's pay while being apprently above the law after commiting war atrocities. The public showed no restraint in voicing their outraged opinions on them.
    Defence companies are also war profiteers, and while they are not directly involved in the fighting of wars, they develop and manufacture the weapons and equipment which result in the deaths of many innocent lives.

    This caused me to think about how the employees are able to work for these companies. Do they just ignore the implications of their work, or maybe put up the attitude that there is a demand for weapons and therefore jobs available, someone has to do it, might as well be me?

    Do you think that the people working for defence companies are amoral/morally dubious?
    Could you work for one of the companies and sleep sound at night?
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    Well I work for the MoD, so does that make me amoral??

    btw - I sleep very soundly despite me fixing the equipment that releases bombs/missiles, thankyou very muchly
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    There's two ways of looking at this:

    1. You'll be developing things which will directly result in killing people (whether they be innocent or not).

    2. On the other hand, if you don't take the job someone else most definitely will. So weapons are going to be developed and people are going to die regardless of whether you take the job or not.
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    (Original post by bufferz)
    Well I work for the MoD, so does that make me amoral??

    btw - I sleep very soundly despite me fixing the equipment that releases bombs/missiles, thankyou very muchly
    Well you are working for the government and hence are serving your country, working for a private company on the other hand you are only serving yourself.

    Are private military companies (mercenaries) at the same moral level as soldiers in the army?
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    I think you mean 'immoral' rather than 'amoral', which means without moral value.

    For what it's worth, my opinion is that working for such a company in Britain, knowing what it does and what it's products are used for, is terribly immoral. Hence, I would never take such a job. But if you don't share my views on British military operations in the present day, you probably wouldn't find such a job immoral. I'm sure all those who work for the likes of BAE Systems don't think twice about it.
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    (Original post by DJkG.1)
    I think you mean 'immoral' rather than 'amoral', which means without moral value.
    Thanks for pointing that out, i did mean immoral instead of amoral
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      I work on a farm whose food is bought by the government and fed to soldiers fighting an unjust war - does that make me immoral?

      Food for thought.
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      You work in a company that helps your country to protect its citizen, that's a good thing isn't it ?
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      (Original post by LysFromParis)
      You work in a company that helps your country to protect its citizen, that's a good thing isn't it ?
      Its a private military company, They sell to who ever (probably within merit) asks for their military hardware and service.

      So OP's moral conflict is about the general service the company provide, which is, guns that kill people.
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      I work for a company that gets 'business' from the current war in Afghanistan, does that make me immoral?
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      (Original post by Renal)
      I work for a company that gets 'business' from the current war in Afghanistan, does that make me immoral?
      The OP will be developing weaponry which is used to potentially kill innocent civilians (and has been in the past) so it's a different issue. Depends on what you mean by 'business' also.
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      (Original post by CombineHarvester)
      The OP will be developing weaponry which is used to potentially kill innocent civilians (and has been in the past) so it's a different issue. Depends on what you mean by 'business' also.
      The OP might be developing navigation equipment or fuel or aerospace materials or all sorts of technology which is not offensive.

      However, if the OP does work on weaponry, he might be working on weaponry which is, potentially, used to kill the enemies of this country.

      Of course the OP might also be working on technology which has homeland defence or medical applications which is potentially used to save innocent civilians.

      It's not that clear cut.
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        (Original post by Renal)
        The OP might be developing navigation equipment or fuel or aerospace materials or all sorts of technology which is not offensive.
        Why does this matter? As my example above was supposed to point out, why is it supposed to be "more immoral" to produce guns for the soldiers than it is to produce food for the soldiers? Both are products that would greatly increase the soldiers' efficiency in killing, and in fact which are arguably required in modern warfare.
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        (Original post by Saichu)
        Why does this matter? As my example above was supposed to point out, why is it supposed to be "more immoral" to produce guns for the soldiers than it is to produce food for the soldiers? Both are products that would greatly increase the soldiers' efficiency in killing, and in fact which are arguably required in modern warfare.
        We could easily extend that argument to almost all products, services or technology. Researching trauma care? You'll save more soldiers lives.
        Growing food? You might feed a soldier.
        Banking? You might lend money to someone who might invest it in a company who'll make a small component that they'll sell to British Wasteofspace who also make attack helicopters. Don't you feel bad!

        In this case, if you have moral questions about this sort of thing, I think you have to think of intended use. In the same way that someone who makes a weapon doesn't intend it to be used against civilians, someone who sticks the bull bars on Range Rovers doesn't intend it to be used to run over children.

        So if you work on, say, avionics you make equipment that makes flying safer - the use of that technology; to ensure the safety of millions of air travellers, to drop bombs on unarmed civillians, to deliver aid to rural Africa or to ferry to board of BP around the world is something for the end user.
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        (Original post by Renal)
        Banking? You might lend money to someone who might invest it in a company who'll make a small component that they'll sell to British Wasteofspace who also make attack helicopters. Don't you feel bad!
        British WasteofSpace... brilliant... I'd rep that if I could. They are rather abominable.

        OP: If you don't make the missiles somebody else will. Might as well be you raking it in.
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          (Original post by Renal)
          In this case, if you have moral questions about this sort of thing, I think you have to think of intended use.
          That's exactly what happens with my food, however; as my example was deliberately avoiding the happenstance "it might happen to get bought by the army". If you're producing food for the army, it's intended use is to power people so that they could more efficiently kill others. If you're producing fuel for the army, it's intended use is to power vehicles so that they could more efficiently kill others, and so on.

          Thus, working for a non-weapons defense contractor is not morally different from working for a weapons defense contractor, which many are saying here is wrong.
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          (Original post by Saichu)
          That's exactly what happens with my food, however; as my example was deliberately avoiding the happenstance "it might happen to get bought by the army". If you're producing food for the army, it's intended use is to power people so that they could more efficiently kill others. If you're producing fuel for the army, it's intended use is to power vehicles so that they could more efficiently kill others, and so on.

          Thus, working for a non-weapons defense contractor is not morally different from working for a weapons defense contractor, which many are saying here is wrong.
          We've gone from killing 'innocent civilians' to killing 'others'. Killing people can be morally defensible.

          Your argument also skips over some of the other things that the military does. Your food, for example, would be used to feed refugees and evacuees - isn't that morally good? What about the aircraft designer who's aircraft drop aid into natural disasters? Or the armour maker who's body armour protects the journalist?
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          (Original post by Renal)
          We could easily extend that argument to almost all products, services or technology. Researching trauma care? You'll save more soldiers lives.
          Growing food? You might feed a soldier.
          Banking? You might lend money to someone who might invest it in a company who'll make a small component that they'll sell to British Wasteofspace who also make attack helicopters. Don't you feel bad!

          In this case, if you have moral questions about this sort of thing, I think you have to think of intended use. In the same way that someone who makes a weapon doesn't intend it to be used against civilians, someone who sticks the bull bars on Range Rovers doesn't intend it to be used to run over children.

          So if you work on, say, avionics you make equipment that makes flying safer - the use of that technology; to ensure the safety of millions of air travellers, to drop bombs on unarmed civillians, to deliver aid to rural Africa or to ferry to board of BP around the world is something for the end user.
          Those points are stretching it too far, The whole purpose for PMC's are to develop weapons regardless of intention.

          the whole concept behind them is to develop weapons; and provide it to anyone who has the money, which could be used for evil intentions.

          Moral implication for OP.
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            (Original post by Renal)
            We've gone from killing 'innocent civilians' to killing 'others'. Killing people can be morally defensible.

            Your argument also skips over some of the other things that the military does. Your food, for example, would be used to feed refugees and evacuees - isn't that morally good? What about the aircraft designer who's aircraft drop aid into natural disasters? Or the armour maker who's body armour protects the journalist?
            Weapons can also be used to defend the refugees and evacuees, as well as journalists or aid planes. I'm sure some sort of moral equivalence can be maintained.
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            (Original post by Electrodude)
            Those points are stretching it too far, The whole purpose for PMC's are to develop weapons regardless of intention.

            the whole concept behind them is to develop weapons; and provide it to anyone who has the money, which could be used for evil intentions.

            Moral implication for OP.
            Nope. PMCs are Private Military Contractors such as Blackwater, Aegis or ArmourGroup, they provide military and security services and were previously known as mercenaries. They do not develop or manufacture weapons.

            This discussion is about Defence Contractors. These are companies, such as BAe, or Northrop Grumman that develop and manufacture equipment for military use. However, obviously that is not all they do - Rolls Royce, for example, are one of the biggest defence contractors but military equipment is a small part of their business. What's more, any company that fulfils a military contract is, technically, a Defence Contractor, so we'd have to include Dell, IBM, Sodhexo, Rentokill and all the other companies that do useful things for us in that list.
           
           
           
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