Agent Turner Assassination Summary

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The question posed in today’s reading was whether an embedded agent should have carried out the assassination of a government official in order to further an espionage investigation. Admiral Turner pulled the plug on the investigation by not green-lighting the hit.1 While I agree with him in this case, there are more factors at play here than the mere legality of the agent’s pending act (assassination), or even the life of the government official weighed against the value of the investigation. Whether or not Admiral Turner made the “right” call comes down to a question of rational response to a moral imperative, which is where things get sticky, especially when authors start using phrases like “any means necessary” when commenting on the proposed…show more content…
One of the fundamental concepts of ethics is the idea that morals in actual life are different from the hypothetical morals that exist in the absolute, or in the sorts of vacuum where we most comfortably and dispassionately examine issues like this one.3 We cannot misconstrue the one as the other, particularly when dealing with life and death issues. Moral concepts only become apparent through the application of judgment, not logic. It might be perfectly logical to balance the life of the government official against the value of the intelligence operation and the potential lives saved by allowing the undercover agent to carry out the assassination; however, it is impossible to assume that any moral question – particularly one of life or death – has a solution that is anything less than a hypothetical, metaphysical belief. We see Schopenhauer at odds with Kant on this very issue in Schopenhauer’s On the Freedom of the Will; Kantian philosophy tells us that ethics is grounded in moral purity, but this is academic.4 Schopenhauer tells us, and I agree, that moral value is resident in voluntary justice, which is an arbitrary value, not necessarily a shared

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