00164787The Persecution of the Myanmar PaperIn the past couple of months, the persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar has been an ongoing issue. The issue has been revolving around the abuse of Rohingya in Myanmar during what is being labeled as a military purge. Military troops have been said to be burning down Rohingya villages, raping women and killing men, women and children. With consequences as big as these, one would think that the Rohingya did something unthinkable to deserve such punishment. That, however, was not the case, as ASRA troops murdered nine border police last October. This enraged the government, who sent troops to the Rakhine state, which sparked the large exodus. What started as such a small conflict quickly turned into the enormous residing issue that Bangladesh has been tasked to deal with. The Myanmar army has portrayed this as an antiterrorist operation, however various prominent organizations and countries, such as the United Nations and the United Kingdom, have labeled this as ethnic cleansing. This maltreatment has prompted an immense refugee exodus in recent months, as hundreds of thousands have fled Myanmar, with these refugees currently subsiding across the Bangladesh border. Hundreds of people have been left to camping in the open, sixty percent of which are children. These people have been left to live through monsoons and other dangerous conditions while fighting hunger and disease The Rohingya have often been tagged as some of the most oppressed people in the world, as discrimination due to their religion is something that is not new to them. The Burmese have been rejecting the Rohingya for decades, so this most recent clash is something that these people have dealt with before. Immanuel Kant, a philosopher of the 1700’s, formulated a moral theory and was published in 1785.Kant’s moral theory, often referred to as Kantianism, is based around an idea called categorical imperatives. There are three formulations of Kant’s categorical imperative, with the first formulation stating, “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law” (Kant, Grounding, 30). Here, Kant is essentially saying that you are prohibited from doing anything that you prohibit others from doing. You are not an an exception to this rule, as it is a universal law that all must follow for it to be considered valid. An example of this would be if you were to steal from a store, you must be willing to allow everybody to steal for you to be able to rightly perform the same action. Kant also touches on a person’s moral worth and developed a theory in determining whether somebody is a good or bad person. One’s motivation to perform an action determines the goodness of an individual, motivation being the driving force behind one’s action. If morality is the main source of motivation behind an action, then the person behind that action is deemed a good one. If one lets their personal emotions get in the way of their decision making then that action is selfish, and the person is not viewed as good. In this specific example of the persecution of the Rohingya, the Myanmar army are the ones in the wrong in this situation. The government allowed their own, personal interests as their motivation to pursue these murders rather than looking at things from the perspective of morality. Ethnic cleansing, as the United Nations had said, is a motive that is unacceptable for anybody, especially when referring to Kant’s moral theory. On top of this, the Myanmar government broke one of the maxims that Kant established in his text. With the murdering of the nine border patrol being the cause of this conflict, the Myanmar government is breaking the universal maxim that killing is prohibited. If the government expected for others not to commit murder, for them to turn around and execute the same action that they had previously prohibited is morally wrong and should be treated as such. John Stuart Mill, a philosopher similar to Kant, based his moral theory around the idea of utilitarianism. The general idea of utilitarianism is the benefit of the majority. In Mill’s words, utilitarianism holds that, “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.” (Mill, Utilitarianism, p.7) If an action brings happiness to the majority, then that action is right, where if it promotes sadness, terror or anything other than happiness then that is a wrong action. When Mill refers to happiness, he means that “happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure.” (Mill, Utilitarianism, p. 7) It is also mentioned that it is necessary for happiness to be impartial, in other words the happiness of one person means no more than the happiness of another, one’s self included. Mill was a believer that pleasure was the only essential good to human beings, so it comes to no surprise that this was one of the major cogs in his utilitarianism theory. Mill also believed that people possess rights, where he defines these by saying that rights are “the legitimate and authorised expectations” (Mill, Utilitarianism, page 19). In other words, when bringing happiness to people, it is necessary that one does not violate their basic human rights. With the example of the Rohingya in Myanmar, it is clear that Mill, too, would deem these killings unjust and wrong. His theory supports the greatest good to the largest sum of people as possible, and with over 620,000 people being neglected and forced out of their own homes, it is clear that this persecution is doing everything besides promoting happiness. This persecution is a blatant violation of the rights that he defined in his text as well, however in this case these rights are being violated by attempting to bring terror, not happiness.Mill and Kant both bring up interesting points in their moral theory, however each theory has its own pros and cons. Both of these philosophers would find the persecution of the Rohingya to be wrong but for different reasons. Personally, Kant’s moral theory is the most logical to me due to the holes that remain within Mill’s theory, specifically with his emphasis on happiness. Taking drugs is something that brings happiness to specific people, however taking drugs is generally a harmful, wrong decision. Mill attempted to combat this objection by mentioning that drugs only give an individual temporary pleasure while beating one’s addiction to drugs brings more sustainable happiness, however Mill’s explanation did not seem legitimate enough. Short and long term pleasure should have been defined in his theory to begin with in order for it to be agreeable to me. Another common objection to this moral theory is that it is difficult to know what the consequences of one’s actions are. This seems to be a blind spot for Mill’s moral theory, because while people will attempt to perform an action for the greater good, however that decision may come with detrimental consequences that are not taken into account when referring to utilitarianism. When thinking about this, another objection arises when thinking about the continuity of the consequences of an action. Consequences can change an infinite amount of times, which would mean that our moral worth is technically allowed to alternate with the changing of these consequences. This would result in a person being considered good one day and bad the next, which makes the theory far more confusing. Finally, the last issue I had with this theory is the fact that happiness varies from person to person. While it is true that Mill deemed that all happiness is impartial, he fails to account for the fact that different things make different people happy. Kant’s theory, on the other hand, while it also comes with its own downfalls, simply has less holes than that of Mill. If an individual has positive motivation for completing an action, there is not much more you can ask from somebody than that. Good intentions only take turns for the worse through accidental incidents in which the action ends up being for the worse, but it does not hold the person with good intentions responsible. The section referring to universal law is also something that is agreeable and relatable as well, as it rejects hypocrisy by not allowing actions that one’s themselves would deem unacceptable. An objection could be made that somebody could potentially imagine a personal maxim for their best interest and claim they are not doing anything wrong because they universally accept this maxim. For example, if somebody claimed that their maxim is ‘To take drugs every day’, then one would argue that performing this harmful action is not wrong because they are accepting this maxim for everybody. However, Kant would respond saying that his text is concerned with a real maxim, not one that somebody can merely think of a maxim, but rather they need to be honest with themselves when creating a maxim. When incorporating honesty within Kant’s moral theory, it eliminates personal, selfish maxim and promotes actual maxims. The persecution of the Rohingya is a real problem and one that needs to be dealt with quickly. It is clear that the Myanmar government is in the wrong just using common sense, but Kant and Mill’s moral theories find their actions wrong for varying reasons. The two theories clashed with each other at times, but Kant’s theory was too convincing and was based around a very basic, relatable rule similar to the term ‘Treat others the way you want to be treated’. With that being said, both philosophers brought up persuasive points, and dissecting a current event through their ancient theories allowed for a conclusion to be made.