I said this, in reference to the conversation about drones and “just war” theory:
Moral arguments are generally pretty intuitive, unless what you’re really trying to do is justify power or violence.
And since I have a bunch of smarty-pants friends who make interesting counter-points, I feel the need to elaborate.
Intuitive probably isn’t a great word to use. It’s a cousin of “common sense” in that both ideas try to make some set of assumptions or base of knowledge universal when actually they’re particular. I’m not sure of the Webster’s definition of intuitive and plus I think it’s obnoxious when people cite definitions. By intuitive I basically mean “agreeable” or “easy to accomplish.” When I say a software program is intuitive I mean that I can make it work without too much difficulty.
Here’s an example of what I’d consider an “intuitive” moral argument. It’s really easy for me to make the argument to other law-abiding American citizens that it should be illegal for us to kill each other. So long as both of us have a basic capacity to practice empathy, that’s an agreeable position for everyone involved.
What’s “non-intuitive” is me trying to explain to an innocent Pakistani teenager why it’s morally acceptable for my country to kill them. If our positions were reversed, I wouldn’t find the pro-drone argument readily agreeable. And those who are trying to argue for drone strikes that will inevitably cause “collateral damage” are going to need to invoke some convoluted reasoning meant ultimately to cover over the fact that an unfair balance of power is in the picture.