Are you allowed to wish your political opponent ill well? Is that morally ok?

As humans, we are not perfect beings, and sometimes our heads are filled with not so positive thoughts about/- towards other people. After the election of Donald Trump in 2016 I been philosophically concerned with questions about the moral wrong of wishing another human being ill well. I'm not thinking about whether one must consciously hurt another human being through direct action. But the very thought in your mind of just wishing another human being to become a victim of ill things, the idea of wishing them ill well.

Execute or pardon.

For example: Is it morally wrong for me to wish for Donald Trump to fall ill in one way or another? That he gets very sick? That he falls and is injured badly? Or what about the more extreme, wishing he would die? That he was to be assassinated? Are you morally wrong about wishing that to be true? Immediately the moral-philosopher thinks that there is something morally wrong about those kinds of wishes in themselves.

But if we imagined that I lived during in Nazi Germany in the 1930’ties, would it be morally ok, to wish Adolf Hitler to die? That Hitler would be murdered? I suppose in somehow depends whether not you are in favor of the death penalty?

If you want another person to die because of his evil deeds, such as Hitler, then you are supposed to be the supporter of the death penalty I would say. Or is any evil deed forgivable? Such as causing the deaths of millions of people? Hitler started an alarming war and persecuted and killed at least 6 million Jews. So one can assume that some people would want Hitler's death if, for example, they lived during World War II.

Throughout the history of philosophy, the ethical philosophical branch known as deontology believes it is always wrong to kill another human being even though this action would save millions, as in the event that someone had killed Hitler before he launched WWII and the Jewish persecution. If you knew that all this would not come to pass if you killed Hitler. Allthough you can of cause never be certain about the future.

About trolley problem.

There is a philosophical paradox that challenges this belief by the deontologist. It’s known as the "trolley problem": Imagine a runaway trolley that has defective brakes. On the current track, five people are tied up and unable to move and the trolley wagon is coming directly towards them. You are standing a distance away from there, just next to a handle to change the track. If you pull this handle, the trolley wagon will change tracks. But you notice that there is one person on the other side track. You have two options:

  1. That you do nothing and the Trolley wagon kills five people on the current track.
  2. Pull the handle and change the track where Trolley wagon only will kill one person.

Which solution is the most ethical choice? I am in favor of switching the track and killing 1 human being instead of 5 humans in such a situation.

But let’s get back to to the philosophical issue of wanting another human being ill well and if this is morally disgusting somehow? I would think that if you lived under Hitler's horror regime and had first hand witness to the unrighteousness of the Second World War, then it would be ok to wish Hitler all sorts of badly things including wishing someone would kill him. It would also be the best thing to kill him, See the trolley problem above. This is also what consequence ethics like utilitarianism confirms.

"But are you morally wrong to wish your political opponent ill well? Not just a little bit?"

But let’s leave Hitlers evil deeds aside and consider the idea of wishing Donald Trump all sorts of evil? Even wishing him death?

Firstly, we hardly know the effects of Trump at power in the United States in practice for a long time. It is pure speculation at this time knowing how it will on turn out and if he will be responsible for the death of millions? So you would be morally wrong in wishing him dead. The only thing he has done is to be a person who you can be incomprehensibly very politically disagreement with.

But are you morally wrong to wish your political opponent ill well? Not just a little bit?

Donald Trump has scared many people away from him and many people including myself, we feel an extreme aversion to his person and policy so far. Many, including myself, think he is dangerous in general and can’t be trusted. Is it not okay, in one sense or another, to wish him something bad then? No, it's actually not ok in a pure moral sense. But I wish to twist things a bit and say that at some small level it's actually really ok morally speaking to wish somebody like Donald Trump just a tiny bit of ill well. But, how exactly?

Ice cream and politics.

It is ok to wish someone else like your political opponent to fail in what I would call their political projects. But not just any projects, but only if those political projects would go against other people and their projects.

It is for example not ok, if I went on a walk with Donald Trump and he suddenly told me he would buy an ice cream at the ice shop. It would be only in spite of him and spurred only by a personal pursuit that wishing Trump to fail in such a project. Since the project: buying an ice cream does not have major consequences for others' projects. The ice shop earns money and wants Trump to buy an ice cream. The producer of the ice cream is also pleased that Trump buys an ice cream. So if you want Trump to fail in buying an ice cream, you only want it from a pure personal attitude against him. This is purely spitefulness against Trump as person.

But if Donald Trump's policies and political actions have consequences for many people and their personal projects, then wishing Trump to fail in this, it is actually quite morally in order. -Even to the degree, of wishing that Trump loses his political office and fails completely at his political project. This is all right in a moral sense. Because Donald Trumps political project is de facto against many peoples personal projects and will affect many people in a bad way.

So you are actually ok morally speaking; if you wish Donald Trump to completely fail in his political project.

This is also called to be in a political disagreement and its okay to be politically disagreeable? Is it not? So If I wish Donald Trump to fail in his political agendas and I would be morally ok by wishing him to fail at that. That is a tiny bit of ill well towards someone you can say.

Author:

Kasper Johansen

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