Advanced Search

I hear this argument a lot: If you're old enough to fight for your country, then you're old enough to do X. X might be "drink," or "gamble," or "do crack cocaine," or "rent a car"; basically anything. Whenever people say this, it strikes me as kind of silly. But at the same time it kind of makes sense, because fighting and dying seems more serious than almost anything else you could possibly do. So I wanted to ask: What do the panelists think?

The claim to which you refer, Isuspect, is a shortened version of one or both of two basicinferences. Either, that killing other people/ risking one's own lifeis an enormous and 'grown-up' responsibility; anyone deemed to becapable of such responsibility should surely be capable of lesserresponsibilities; drinking et al are lesser responsibilities;therefore etc. Or, second, that a nation is asking a great deal of aperson in putting them forward for combat; if someone is asked for somuch, and gives honourably, something should be owed in return,especially some degree of rights or privileges; drinking et al arejust such rights or privileges; therefore etc. As they stand, the above mini-argumentsare not terribly convincing. The responsibility argument assumes thatthe condition of being responsible is simple and one-dimensionallyquantitative. But imagine a Mr. X, who holds down a good job inmanagement, raises a family, sits conscientiously on the citycouncil, and so forth – but...