SandmanTV (sandmantv) wrote,

Moral Question

Reading the last by Naomi Novik, it occurs to me that the Temeraire series contains a morally weighty action that I don't know which course I approve of. And I've never discussed it with my friends either.

I speak of Laurence's decision regarding the Continental dragons.

For those who don’t mind spoilers, an explanation is below the cut.

In this series, the Napoleonic Wars are going on but with dragons. Dragons are as smart as humans (if not always treated that way), and treated in Europe like an air force. They’re used pretty much only by the military, and capable of swaying the tide of battle. They are extremely fond of their captains, and loyal to their nations.

The time period of the books specifically is the height of Napoleon’s power, when he controls the whole Continent, and is doing his best to invade and finish off Britain.

From North America, the British dragons become infected with a plague, that slowly kills all of them. So as not to be outmatched by the French, they send a sick dragon over to infect their dragons too. The main human character, Laurence, finds this distasteful but doesn’t try very hard to stop it.

Later, Laurence finds the cure, and they manage to slowly start curing all the British dragons. The British command, however, wants all the Continental dragons to die, so that they can defeat Napoleon. Laurence objects, steals the cure, and flies to the Continent. He makes sure they use it, is offered asylum by Napoleon, rejects it, and goes home to await trial.

Do you think his mission of mercy was a good idea? Okay, so the pacifist in me sees any killing in resistance of invasion as morally questionable, and that easy answer is a valid one, but dismisses anything Laurence does. He has signed on for the war, and kills enemy combatants on an individual level willingly. Why does this decision make sense in his moral framework?

But beyond that… this plague wasn’t going to wipe out the whole dragon race. And its victims were all soldiers of war, who would be purposed to invade the country he swore to defend. And there is very real reason to believe Napoleon will soon take over the whole world if they don't stop him that way. (Napoleon isn't a mad lunatic in this story, but he's no enlightened ruler either.)

What is the moral logic in favor of his particular choice? What would you do?
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