Can a Paladin kill innocents for "their own good"?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Sovereign Court

Pixie, the Leng Queen wrote:


I said RELIGIONS. Buddhism and Islam are thebsame way. They are (supposed to be anyway) pacifists. In many religion the act of killing is often frowned upon.

Some versions of Buddhism - yes, though even that varies. (Shaolin aren't exactly pacifists. I would have thought you would have remembered them on a Pathfinder board since they're the inspiration for the monk class.)

But Islam? No. Killing is fine under specific circumstances under Islam. That's actually how Islam spread in the first place - through conquest.

(Note - I'm not weighing on any politics in the last millennium. But the Muslim Empire WAS how it was first spread - being turned back in Europe at The Battle of Tours by Charlemagne's grandfather. As far as conquests go - it wasn't especially bloody, considerably less than many ancient ones, but you don't gain an empire larger than Rome's by holding hands and singing Kumbaya.)

I don't think that a part of Buddhism qualifies as "most religions". Heck - Christianity & Islam alone encompass just over half the world's population.

Pixie, the Leng Queen wrote:

Murder

noun
1.
Law. the killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law. In the U.S., special statutory definitions include murder committed with malice aforethought, characterized by deliberation or premeditation or occurring during the commission of another serious crime, as robbery or arson (first-degree murder) and murder by intent but without deliberation or premeditation (second-degree murder)
verb (used with object)
4.
Law. to kill by an act constituting murder.
5.
to kill or slaughter inhumanly or barbarously.

So again, murder is simply a legal definition. What is Murder is a definition established by the state.

You're entirely ignoring definition #5. And the other two (#1/#4) are specifically talking about the definition within the law - hence 'Law' at the beginning of them. (Like many other words - it has a similar but mostly unrelated definition within the law. There IS a legal definition - but that's not the only/original one.)

So - outside the law, you're left with definition #5, which isn't a legal definition - "to kill or slaughter inhumanly or barbarously.". Note "inhumanly" and "barbarously" are qualifiers for killing, meaning that not all killing is murder.

To be murder - a kill has to be "inhuman" or "barbarous".


Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Pixie, the Leng Queen wrote:


I said RELIGIONS. Buddhism and Islam are thebsame way. They are (supposed to be anyway) pacifists. In many religion the act of killing is often frowned upon.

Some versions of Buddhism - yes, though even that varies. (Shaolin aren't exactly pacifists. I would have thought you would have remembered them on a Pathfinder board since they're the inspiration for the monk class.)

But Islam? No. Killing is fine under specific circumstances under Islam. That's actually how Islam spread in the first place - through conquest.

(Note - I'm not weighing on any politics in the last millennium. But the Muslim Empire WAS how it was first spread - being turned back in Europe at The Battle of Tours by Charlemagne's grandfather. As far as conquests go - it wasn't especially bloody, considerably less than many ancient ones, but you don't gain an empire larger than Rome's by holding hands and singing Kumbaya.)

I don't think that a part of Buddhism qualifies as "most religions". Heck - Christianity & Islam alone encompass just over half the world's population.

Pixie, the Leng Queen wrote:

Murder

noun
1.
Law. the killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law. In the U.S., special statutory definitions include murder committed with malice aforethought, characterized by deliberation or premeditation or occurring during the commission of another serious crime, as robbery or arson (first-degree murder) and murder by intent but without deliberation or premeditation (second-degree murder)
verb (used with object)
4.
Law. to kill by an act constituting murder.
5.
to kill or slaughter inhumanly or barbarously.

So again, murder is simply a legal definition. What is Murder is a definition established by the state.

You're entirely ignoring definition #5. And the other two (#1/#4) are specifically talking about the definition within the law - hence 'Law' at the beginning of them. (Like many other words - it has a similar...

What are the qualifiers to be "inhuman" or "barbarous?"

For instance, a physician assisted suicide. Some call it murder, but it is niether "inhumane" or "barbarous"...

Some Would say the way war is is barbarous... or even inhumane with more primitive forms (like flame throwers of with a sword). Heck, hacking someonr with a sword is often seen has barbarous (look at how industrial Japan viewed those who clung to feudalism)

Sovereign Court

Pixie, the Leng Queen wrote:

What are the qualifiers to be "inhuman" or "barbarous?"

For instance, a physician assisted suicide. Some call it murder, but it is niether "inhumane" or "barbarous"...

Some Would say the way war is is barbarous... or even inhumane with more primitive forms (like flame throwers of with a sword). Heck, hacking someonr with a sword is often seen has barbarous (look at how industrial Japan viewed those who clung to feudalism)

I have mentioned several times that what makes a killing a murder is a blurry line which is up for debate.

A hardcore pacifist would say that all intentional killing is inherently inhuman/barbarous, and therefore murder. War/execution/self-defense etc. are probably all murder to them. But even they wouldn't say that causing an accidental death would be murder, so even for them murder is a distinct subset of killing.

What makes a killing actually murder is up for debate. (Though in Pathfinder it's safe to say that war/execution/self-defense etc do NOT qualify as murder - since they're a good chunk of what good adventurers spend their time doing.)

That murder is only a subset of killing is not up for debate.

Grand Lodge

Paul Watson wrote:
Pixie, the Leng Queen wrote:
Aso for the soldier thing, you know why they DONT just executed war prisoners? Simple, politicS. Most civilized countries have agreed to certain rules with which to operate. Same reason the US doesnt just nuke something, Sure WE COULD. The political ramifications are too steep for the country to risk. Same thing. Most countries dont treat soldiers as murderers because they were under the order of thoer state. Now if they went beyond their orders then they become war criminals.
"I was just following orders" hasn't been a valid excuse since the 40s. Orders have to be lawful to be followed and, if not, you can be a war criminal even if you followed your orders to the letter. Of course, just because you've committed war crimes, doesn't mean you'll actually be prosecuted. Neither of which is a place where an un-fallen Paladin should find themselves.

I feel like it should also be pointed out here that in war it's not uncommon for people on opposite sides of a war to understand the situation and respect one another, even if they are fighting them.

The British have a memorial to George Washington. The Red Baron was given a tribute by Allied Forces. There are examples and stories throughout history where soldiers on opposing sides of war come to have a respect or admiration for each other, despite the necessities of war. So I don't think it's as simple as "to one side he's a hero, to the other a murderer."

Also objective morality exists in Pathfinder. Good is objectively defined. Nowhere in that definition does it say, "Following your deity's orders no matter how cockamamie or trumped up they may be." Unlike theology in the real world, Occam's Razor has been definitively solved by having a power higher than the higher powers --- the dev team who wrote the rules.


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Washington was a British war hero prior to the Revolution, though.

Charon's Little Helper wrote:
But Islam? No. Killing is fine under specific circumstances under Islam. That's actually how Islam spread in the first place - through conquest.

Isn't the exact same thing true of Christianity? Plenty of religions frown on killing. What their worshipers do is another matter.


1. How should paladins of that deity react?
I suspect the true paladins would react with revulsion and tell the deity to shove off (possibly using other words). Even as far as a paladin is concerned, Lawful Good is not Lawful Right.

2. Accepting the order, would paladins keep their status and alignment?
No. Not at all.

3. If some paladins refuse, can they still be paladin?
Yes.

The biggest problem with this scenarios is why isn't a massive divine plane shift a solution. That is the good course of action. That is the course of action a paladin should take.


EntrerisShadow wrote:

{. . .}

The British have a memorial to George Washington. {. . .}

Note that this went up (and only in a museum) in 1921, which was after the US helped them out with World War I. Without going too much into specifics of Earth history, war can make strange bedfellows between those who get lumped together on the same side of the battle lines.


It's not an history thread but during WWII, the Allied bombing killed around 50,000 civilians in Normandy. Civilians still supported and helped Allied troops as much as they could. "No one complained" for these dozens of thousands of innocent victims, they were (and are still) considered the price to pay for a greater good!

Also, considering the development of Christian faith in Europe, many people were slaughtered in Middle-Age for refusing to convert to this new religion (this before, during and after the Crusades).

Back to this campaign it is designed to have players question the concepts of good, evil, faith and religion. Some won't like, others will; still for many players it will be something new and different.

From many religions point of view, mass killing faithful followers to have them entering Heaven is not obviously evil.
Religions considering soul as immortal, consider the body has nothing but a very temporary vessel. It's a vessel you have to respect has it was given by the god(s), but having it destroyed is not such a big deal, nor suffering.
If you take Christian religions, that you are poor, sick and die at 12 yo after a horrible lifetime or, that you're rich, healthy and die at 100 yo after a wonderful lifetime doesn't make much difference.

In religions reality is everything but reality. It's kind of a "cosmic MMORPG", and destroying players' avatars, even massively, is not obviously evil.
All this doesn't mean that people here supporting the idea that a LG deity can't call for a massive killing of his followers (that paladins can't follow this) are wrong but if they consider gods to be gods, they can't either be so sure about it.

Again, if you take the full picture, this campaign is much more than a paladin trap.
I personally consider that you have to respect characters and not to strip them from any part of their powers/abilities. If you know the full campaign will be inside a city you can forbid druids from the beginning, but not letting one enter the game to find he/she can't really enjoy his/her character.
This campaign is to have characters questioning themselves about their relationship to reality and divine.

Shadow Lodge

Davor wrote:

If you believe in subjective morality, then you can answer however you want because you can justify whatever you want, and nobody can tell you otherwise.

If you believe in objective morality, then the end of the world doesn't change objective evil.

What's the objective standard, though?

"The good action is the one that produces the most expected benefit or the least expected harm" is just as objective as "This list of actions is good and this list evil regardless of consequences."

EntrerisShadow wrote:
Also objective morality exists in Pathfinder. Good is objectively defined. Nowhere in that definition does it say, "Following your deity's orders no matter how cockamamie or trumped up they may be." Unlike theology in the real world, Occam's Razor has been definitively solved by having a power higher than the higher powers --- the dev team who wrote the rules.

"Good implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others."

Does respect for life mean that you can't kill? Or does concern for the dignity of sentient beings require you to kill rather than allow someone to suffer a fate worse than death?

The alignment rules give general guidelines for how characters of certain alignments behave, not detailed instructions on how to resolve moral dilemmas.

Notably, while the extended discussion in Champions of Purity specifies that for Lawful Good characters "the end rarely justifies the means" it also states that they "sometimes have problems defying laws, even when the laws are unjust" - meaning that such a character's moral intuitions might be conflicted in this scenario.

Angstspawn wrote:
Back to this campaign it is designed to have players question the concepts of good, evil, faith and religion. Some won't like, others will; still for many players it will be something new and different.

Will your players like it, though? Because some people who dislike it will dislike it badly enough to leave your table and maybe never come back.


Short answer: No.

A paladin should try to find a way to stop that whatever is the situation that will push him to do that.

Sovereign Court

Weirdo wrote:
Davor wrote:

If you believe in subjective morality, then you can answer however you want because you can justify whatever you want, and nobody can tell you otherwise.

If you believe in objective morality, then the end of the world doesn't change objective evil.

What's the objective standard, though?

"The good action is the one that produces the most expected benefit or the least expected harm" is just as objective as "This list of actions is good and this list evil regardless of consequences."

That's not actually what objective/subjective morality means. Two people who both believe in objective morality might argue over what said objective morality IS.

Someone who believes in subjective morality believes that morality changes entirely depending upon circumstances - time/place etc. (Not really a traditional 'morality' at all.)


Crusades is a term that one should be careful in referencing as the term usage and even historians disagree on things like the number/types of crusades.

However the first crusade was not to wipe out heretics or to fight Islam it was to re-take access to the holy land, which for whatever reason history acts as if the crusade was something someone woke up one day and said hey we need to invade a peaceful place.

People like facts so actually Islam has it's own versions of Crusades, with counter-crusades, oddly the crusaders are blamed although they didn't conquer/occupy the city first.

History is weird like that......

The first crusade

Spoiler:

(1096–1099) was the first of a number of crusades that attempted to capture the Holy Lands, called by Pope Urban II in 1095. It started as a widespread pilgrimage in western christendom and ended as a military expedition by Roman Catholic Europe to regain the Holy Lands taken in the Muslim conquests of the Levant (632–661), ultimately resulting in the recapture of Jerusalem in 1099. It was launched on 27 November 1095 by Pope Urban II with the primary goal of responding to an appeal from Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, who requested that western volunteers come to his aid and help to repel the invading Seljuq Turks from Anatolia. An additional goal soon became the principal objective—the Christian reconquest of the sacred city of Jerusalem and the Holy Land and the freeing of the Eastern Christians from Muslim rule.


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I don't think this is the place for real world religious discussion, folks.

Sovereign Court

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alexd1976 wrote:
I don't think this is the place for real world religious discussion, folks.

Yeah - many people have trouble discussing history when religion is even peripherally involved. (One reason why so many peoples' knowledge of history is so awkward.) I should have known better. :P


Charon's Little Helper wrote:
alexd1976 wrote:
I don't think this is the place for real world religious discussion, folks.
Yeah - many people have trouble discussing history when religion is even peripherally involved. (One reason why so many peoples' knowledge of history is so awkward.) I should have known better. :P

I was kind of hoping that people would be curious and get so busy in research that they would drop the subject from the thread entirely!!!

Kind of like telling people that kilts didn't show up until hundreds of years after Braveheart....I assure you I am no historian!!! But I do find myself curious at times ; )


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Perhaps we can stop the talking about real world religions that will get the thread closed?

Community Manager

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Locking thread. Dragging real world religion into an alignment discussion rarely ends up in a good place.

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