PiedPiper

Are Bridge Crews Really So Immoral?

40 posts in this topic

I've been considering this for a while, and I'm not certain that Sadeas's bridge crews are as evil as Sanderson makes them out to be. Before you call my a psychopathic monster, listen to my reasoning.

In effect, what Sadeas is doing is sacrificing the lives of thousands of the worst criminals -- murderers, deserters, etc. -- to save at least ten times as many good men. (Although I do think that it's wrong to not inform the bridgemen that their true purpose is to act as bait.) Now, we know that a lot of the men in Bridge 4 were falsely accused, and addicts like Teft should have gotten treatment, not punishment. But if bridge crews had been a real-life phenomenon, the men in them would actually have deserved their sentences.

Some might argue that, considering the Alethi social structure and their justice system, there's no way to ensure that any darkeyes assigned to a bridge crew received a fair sentence. However, this seems to me a greater testament to the necessity of social justice reform in Vorin societies than to the immorality of bridge crews. All the reflection we get on this system of Sadeas's is from the perspective of Kaladin, who is much too close to the issue to offer a fair and objective analysis.

I will counter my own argument with this: in Judaism, we have something called a minyan, which is when a group of 10 men pray together in shul, the idea being that 10 voices together is greater than the sum of their parts. (I promise this is relevant to the point; I'll get there eventually. I bring up this story not for religious purposes, but for philosophical ones -- somewhat like Talmudic study.) This concept comes from a very specific story (and I might have some of the details wrong here, so I ask any fellow Jews to forgive my inaccuracies) in which God, frustrated with the wicked ways of humanity, decides to destroy Israel and everyone in it, then make the world anew -- a similar start to that of the story of Noah's Ark. However, God's prophet intervenes, asking: "if I can find a thousand holy men in this land, will you spare it all on their behalf?" God answers that He will. The prophet asks the same about a hundred men, and then about 10, and God again answers with the affirmative. When God's prophet asks if God will spare Jerusalem on the behalf of one holy man, God says no; and thus the concept of 10 being the number of voices preferable (although not necessary) to reach God's ears with a strong message was born.

Here's how this relates to the bridge crews: is it worth saving x number of men if you must kill a tenth of that number? The fact that 10 good men are enough to save Jerusalem makes me think that the ratio of 1:10 might have moral significance, so the person who sends men to their deaths to save 10 times as many might live would be on the wrong moral ground, according to this story.

I guess the point of this post is just to spark discussion; I'd love to hear other opinions so that I can move this debate outside of my head.

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So, I just wanted to say that the number or bridgemen that die is probably going to be higher than the number of soldiers that would die without the bridge strategy, as the bridgemen are unarmored and the soldiers are armored and have shields. The same amount of arrows will be shot. just a little thought...

Edited by Chasmgoat
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The bridge crews are effective at preserving Sadeas' army, but it costed many lives. Sure, if someone had earned a death sentence according to the justice system and had actually deserved it, then it would be preferable to torture them as a bridgeman until they die, preserving lives of others instead of just a meaningless death. As Sadeas sees it.

Now, people do get falsely accused all the time, and even in real life people can change throughout life and deserve second chances, though sadly the world never can let go of their past. But you do run the risk of killing off innocents, as you bring up. But the problem is that people get falsely accused in real life all the time. Justice systems are not perfect.

My biggest concern with what Sadeas was doing is the fact of what they're dying for. Yes, they're dying to save the lives of many others of Sadeas' army. But who put them in danger in the first place? Sadeas. So it doesn't matter as much they're saving lives if that's just resolving a problem Sadeas has created. What matters is the true reason that Sadeas is putting everyone's lives in danger in the first place, and that is to wage a useless war against the Parshendi to obtain gemhearts on the Shattered Plains. For riches or fame and notoriety.

And so, ultimately, these bridgemen are being put through both physical and psychological torture until they die from it primarily for Sadeas' personal benefit. And that is why Sadeas is evil, in my opinion.

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Ok so I buy your point. In theory, it is justified to use criminals as bait for bridge runs and save the lives of many a good soldier. But that can be true only for death-row criminals. 
 

But in practise there are a lot of issues here

- it is seen that criminals that have committed even minor offences and in many a cases, simply irritated a lighteyes or proven inconvenient to deal with, are sentenced to bridgeruns which is essentially death penalty, so disproportionate punishment!

- bridges are not only run by criminals but many manning these bridges were slaves. Now not all slaves were criminals, some were just victims of circumstances and some were simply born into it. So due to not much fault of theirs, these slaves found themselves consigned to death penalty which is just not fair. 
- not giving bridgemen any shield and armour is downright cruel. There is no evidence to suggest that they would act as inefficient baits. It is plainly that sadeas does not care about saving them. It is just cheaper to buy more slaves than to outfit them. And more than that Sadeas thinks it will just slow them down! 
- also cruel to not carry wounded bridgemen back to camp. They are just left to die slowly and painfully.

- also cruel to not provide them surgeons, there is no attempt to even check if any have minor wounds that can be easily healed. If you can not carry your bridge or walk back, you are left behind and you die, in most cases slowly of bleeding or thirst. Some must jump down the chasms I think to end their torture once left behind. 
 

As demonstrated by kaladin, many many could be saved with very little effort on sadeas’s surgeons part. One kaladin alone , with minimum resources saved so many, imagine how many could be saved with a whole army worth of surgeons and healers. 
This shows a callous disregard for human life especially dark eyes and slaves lives by sadeas and most likely other highprinces also. 
- forget about providing them surgeons, sadeas will not even let bridgemen get medicine and bandages from the army supplies!! 
why not? Are they not,  in acting as bait, part of your military strategy. Are they not part of your army? It is just plain cruel. And it is not much expensive to sadeas anyway. These highprinces have more wealth then they no what to do with it. 
So not only is sadeas cruel but he is an extremely niggardly fellow
- Once saved by kaladin, refusal to give them any food is beyond cruel!! And reasoning given is preposterous! These bridgemen should have died so we are not giving them food. Or that they can not work as bridgemen anymore so I am not wasting food on them!! 
If your slave get sick and he can not work, sadeas will refuse to give him food!! 
- and then all types of menial labour they are made to do is just too much. Have not these poor souls endured enough!! Keep them busy !! Really!? They are going to die in a matter of few bridgeruns so what matter if they are kept busy or not. It is not like they are going to stick around for long to cause any trouble!! 

Edited by The Traveller
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51 minutes ago, Chasmgoat said:

So, I just wanted to say that the number or bridgemen that die is probably going to be higher than the number of soldiers that would die without the bridge strategy, as the bridgemen are unarmored and the soldiers are armored and have shields. The same amount of arrows will be shot. just a little thought...

yep. this.

for every man in armor who would have died to arrows, at least a half dozen bridgemen died. but the bridgemen were deemed less valuable. i could get behind it if it saved lives, but it didn't.

as for them being all condemned criminals, i could get behind the idea of sacrificing condemned criminals for the good of others. but if a society produces so many condemned criminals to fill the bridge crews, then it is a complete sham.

 

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1 hour ago, Knight of Iron said:

My biggest concern with what Sadeas was doing is the fact of what they're dying for. Yes, they're dying to save the lives of many others of Sadeas' army. But who put them in danger in the first place? Sadeas. So it doesn't matter as much they're saving lives if that's just resolving a problem Sadeas has created. What matters is the true reason that Sadeas is putting everyone's lives in danger in the first place, and that is to wage a useless war against the Parshendi to obtain gemhearts on the Shattered Plains. For riches or fame and notoriety.

I think you bring up a good point; I hadn't thought of the fact that if they do die, it's important they die with good reason and for a good cause, which Sadeas is not.

1 hour ago, The Traveller said:

As demonstrated by kaladin, many many could be saved with very little effort on sadeas’s surgeons part. One kaladin alone , with minimum resources saved so many, imagine how many could be saved with a whole army worth of surgeons and healers. 
This shows a callous disregard for human life especially dark eyes and slaves lives by sadeas and most likely other highprinces also. 
- forget about providing them surgeons, sadeas will not even let bridgemen get medicine and bandages from the army supplies!! 
why not? Are they not,  in acting as bait, part of your military strategy. Are they not part of your army? It is just plain cruel. And it is not much expensive to sadeas anyway. These highprinces have more wealth then they no what to do with it. 
So not only is sadeas cruel but he is an extremely niggardly fellow
- Once saved by kaladin, refusal to give them any food is beyond cruel!! And reasoning given is preposterous! These bridgemen should have died so we are not giving them food. Or that they can not work as bridgemen anymore so I am not wasting food on them!! 
If your slave get sick and he can not work, sadeas will refuse to give him food!! 
- and then all types of menial labour they are made to do is just too much. Have not these poor souls endured enough!! Keep them busy !! Really!? They are going to die in a matter of few bridgeruns so what matter if they are kept busy or not. It is not like they are going to stick around for long to cause any trouble!!

You're right about the denial of medicine. But my argument is more that it's not so evil a concept as presented. Sadeas's execution of said concept is definitely evil.

1 hour ago, The Traveller said:

- it is seen that criminals that have committed even minor offences and in many a cases, simply irritated a lighteyes or proven inconvenient to deal with, are sentenced to bridgeruns which is essentially death penalty, so disproportionate punishment!

- bridges are not only run by criminals but many manning these bridges were slaves. Now not all slaves were criminals, some were just victims of circumstances and some were simply born into it. So due to not much fault of theirs, these slaves found themselves consigned to death penalty which is just not fair. 

As for this: this has more to do with the issue of Alethi courts than the morality of bridge crews, which I talked about in my original post.

1 hour ago, Chasmgoat said:

So, I just wanted to say that the number or bridgemen that die is probably going to be higher than the number of soldiers that would die without the bridge strategy, as the bridgemen are unarmored and the soldiers are armored and have shields. The same amount of arrows will be shot. just a little thought...

And regarding your point: we don't have great numbers on this, and we don't know how many soldiers the bridgemen save by dying. But again, it's the concept of bridge crews that I'm talking about. You can sacrifice what we assume is thousands of bridgemen, but there are tens of thousands of soldiers in Sadeas's army. These are what I presume the figures to be, since Brandon doesn't publish casualty reports about the skirmishes.

As for armor, I don't know anything about battle strategy. Maybe the bridge crews are more effective without armor, maybe there's a supply shortage, and maybe Sadeas is just a jerk. But whether or not they get armor would be a decision made by individual commanders. This has to do with practicality, not theory.

Edited by PiedPiper
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I guess the thing is that everyone is focusing on the way Sadeas manages his bridge crews, and Sadeas has little to do with my point here. I can't decide if bridge crews, as a concept, are inherently evil, but of course I agree that Sadeas is, and the way he uses his bridge crews is.

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The way the bridge crews are run is immoral, in my opinion.  If some changes were made, than it would be a viable strategy, but as they are shown in the books, I can't agree with it.  If: 

  1. The bridge crews were given some form of protection, be that some sort of collapsible shield on the front of the bridge or individual armor
  2. They were provided medical attention, wages, and proper meals
  3. If it were not a punishment for supposedly any offense
  4. Everyone involved was informed and willing

I would say that yes, given the circumstances on Roshar, it's a good strategy.  But the way Sadeas executes it is foul, immoral, and disgusting.

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I'd say if you are a soldier and have to decide between Sadeas and Dalinar, you'd want to go into Sadeas' camp. 

And if we are fair, it's the job and responsibility of your military commander to protect the soldiers under his command. If that can be achieved by purchasing slaves and using them as canon fodder - that is not reprehensible. That's what you bought them for. 

Arguing from a standpoint in which slavery is outlawed and then comparing lives with each other when slaves are just considered mere objects.. meh. 

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I have said it in other threads here, but...

 

Trying to ascribe OUR worldly morality to a mythical (albeit FANTASTIC and evolving) reality doesn't work. 
 

So much of the Cosmere is a century or further behind Human development on Earth, and personally, I think BS has been handling the Social Ideals very well.

With that in mind, the Morality of the Bridge Crews is perfectly in line with Rosharan Ideology. If you look at Humanity 2-300 years ago and take Feudalism into account, Blood and political dissent were more relevant than anything else. ‘If I feel you have slighted me, then you deserve whatever I can give you’

For us, yes, completely abhorrent and unacceptable. For the Development on Roshar, it does seem reasonable. 
 

Things are changing and quite a lot more quickly than they have in the Real World, but trying to apply RW Morality to a (fictional) society centuries behind us in development just doesn’t fit.

Edited by IllNsickly
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WARNING: Angry leftist rant ahead

TL;DR: No, it's absolutely not justifiable.

Quote

In effect, what Sadeas is doing is sacrificing the lives of thousands of the worst criminals -- murderers, deserters, etc. -- to save at least ten times as many good men. (Although I do think that it's wrong to not inform the bridgemen that their true purpose is to act as bait.) Now, we know that a lot of the men in Bridge 4 were falsely accused, and addicts like Teft should have gotten treatment, not punishment. But if bridge crews had been a real-life phenomenon, the men in them would actually have deserved their sentences.

I have a lot, a lot, a lot of problems with this section. Firstly, the life of someone completely morally reprehensible in every way is not worth less than the life of anyone else. No human life is worth more or less than another. Yes, you bring up the ratio (and go into that more later on), but if that was all this was about it wouldn't matter who the bridgemen were or whether they deserved their sentence, but you address this as an important topic so clearly there is more at play. No one deserves to be made a slave, and no one deserves to be forced to sacrifice their life. Not on account of their eye color, not on account of their criminal status, not on account of their morality. The fact that the bridgemen have no choice in the matter is more than enough for me to condemn the entire process. The entire purpose of the bridgemen is to be bait, to draw the Parshendi fire away from trained soldiers. So the options are either use slaves, ask for volunteers and lie about the purpose, or to ask for volunteers and be open about the purpose. The first two are horribly immoral, and the third is better (still not great, I mean they're still bait, but better) but will not yield many volunteers.

Then we get into another big assumption at the hear of this section- that the bridge crews are made of the worst criminals, and the soldiers their lives are being sacrificed for is good. The Alethi are an invading force fighting a genocidal war, built on a base of classism, racism, sexism, and imperialism. I don't think we can really say the soldiers are exactly "good men". While obviously murder is bad (though I still vehemently disagree that it begets enslavement or death), I can't say the same for deserters since the war itself is really not good. You bring up Teft and say he deserves treatment, not punishment, and I agree! In fact I agree so much, I'd apply the same to all other criminals. People don't crime for no reason, and it's much better to address the root cause than it is to just punish; it's a far more effective and humane way of preventing this from happening again.

Also, and this is more of a tangential petty point, but I find the point "if bridge crews had been a real-life phenomenon, the men in them would actually have deserved their sentences" to be... laughably naive at best. Even assuming that by "their sentence" you mean "yes this person did commit this murder" and not "yes this person deserves to be a slave", false sentences happen all the time in real life.

 

So in effect, we have the value judgement that "the lives of bad people are worth less than the lives of good people", a premise I highly disagree with, operating on definitions of good and bad that I also disagree with.

4 hours ago, PiedPiper said:

Some might argue that, considering the Alethi social structure and their justice system, there's no way to ensure that any darkeyes assigned to a bridge crew received a fair sentence. However, this seems to me a greater testament to the necessity of social justice reform in Vorin societies than to the immorality of bridge crews. All the reflection we get on this system of Sadeas's is from the perspective of Kaladin, who is much too close to the issue to offer a fair and objective analysis.

I'd say you can ensure that the darkeyes assigned to a bridge crew didn't receive a fair sentence since, again, that sentence is slavery: something inherently unfair and unjust. I really don't think you can separate Alethi social structures from the bridgecrews like you seem to be trying because they rely entirely on that structure.

The idea that Kaladin is "too close to the issue to offer a fair and objective analysis" is also just, frankly, frightening. This was an idea that persisted about real life slavery for years (and still does), and essentially just dismisses the experiences of the oppressed on the grounds that they were oppressed. It's a lot like this comic really. If someone is saying "I am harmed by this system" that means you should listen to them more not less. And it's just such a ridiculous premise when applied elsewhere. Are women too close to the issue to speak about mysoginy? Are black people to close to the issue to speak about racism? Are workers to close to the issue to complain about the elite? Sure they have their biases, but everyone does, and they have valueable insight you couldn't gain from an "objective, outside perspective".

4 hours ago, PiedPiper said:

the ratio of 1:10 might have moral significance

This just seems weirdly specific. So is it justifiable to sacrifice someone to save 10 people, but not 2 or 5 or 9? 

 

 

 

The very base idea of a bridge crew, using men to carry bridges to cross long chasms, is fine (assuming a just economic system). But everything about the bridge crews in practice is completely reprehensible. It relies on using an exploited slave class in terrible conditions as bait to avoid risking the lives of soldiers you've invested more money into, for the purpose of a genocidal war machine. This is absolutely, fundamentally reprehensible and that's not affected by the fact that some prehensible(?) form of it exists; that version is so far removed from what was actually occurring that it's irrelevant.

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So this was actually a real world strategy.  Most notably the Mongols would round up large numbers of people from the countryside and make them carry ladders and siege engines against fortified cities to preserve their own forces.  This had the dual effect of preserving their own army and devastating the enemy's moral.  It is also a primary reason that in most of the world the Mongols empire is to this very day considered savage and barbaric despite its numerous political and even social achievements. 

As a utilitarian(mostly) I would not consider the bridge crews a good method of achieving anything.  Harsh punishments do not really decrease crime nor does giving "bad people" what they "deserve" appeal to me as a concept.  In the particular instance of the vengeance pact Sadeas could have achieved far more in terms of saving lives by honestly supporting his partnership with Dalinar both politically and militarily.  Our real world justice system is not considerably better at identifying people most would consider "bad."  In fact looking at the US's prison population I think you would find pretty much exactly the same kinds of people as you do in bridge four(with the possible exception of some of the political prisoners). 

In summary I think you would be hard pressed to find a situation where this tactic would be ethically feasible, real world or then, and once you allow these methods the worst are incited to make all sorts of nasty uses of it.  Sadeases are not exactly uncommon in positions of power.  We don't deal with because we are better judges of character then the Alethi but because we prevent them from indulging in this type of behavior by limiting what we consider acceptable.

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7 hours ago, PiedPiper said:

But if bridge crews had been a real-life phenomenon, the men in them would actually have deserved their sentences.

Ah yes, because a. real life people don't get falsely accused of things, and b. the judicial system would definitely not be horribly abused were such a situation like this to arise. Especially with how many bodies the bridge crews need to function. 

7 hours ago, PiedPiper said:

In effect, what Sadeas is doing is sacrificing the lives of thousands of the worst criminals -- murderers, deserters, etc. -- to save at least ten times as many good men.

Do we know it actually saves more lives than it costs? I'd wager it's the other way around, if anything.

7 hours ago, PiedPiper said:

All the reflection we get on this system of Sadeas's is from the perspective of Kaladin, who is much too close to the issue to offer a fair and objective analysis.

Ah yes, the person on the recieving end of those horrors is "too close to the issue" to speak on what the bridge crews are like.

7 hours ago, PiedPiper said:

However, this seems to me a greater testament to the necessity of social justice reform in Vorin societies than to the immorality of bridge crews.

¿Por qué no los dos?

(I know most of these points have been brought up by others, but I'd like to reinforce the points.)

That's of course ignoring that the war they're fighting started out as a declaration of intent to commit genocide, and turned into a "game" of sacrificing thousands of lives of a racial underclass in order to fill the pockets of the very top of the ruling class (with genocide as the excuse and secondary intent). 

Edit: I'm also in general against both slave labor and the death penalty under any circumstance, so combining those two into a single thing, while incentivizing abuse of the judicial system to accomplish it, is gonna be a big fat no from me in any circumstance. 

Edited by beewall
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The opening argument requires accepting that people labeled criminals "deserve it" and therefore, the bridge crews are... what, providing a service to society? This is incorrect, and I do not accept the basic assumption of the argument. This is not an appropriate, useful, or moral punishment for criminals and slaves. I refuse to give any ground on the argument that someone could do something bad enough to essentially label them as a sub-human class where the bridge crews are "not that bad", actually.

The fact that so many Alethi think of it as normal or fine is a resounding indictment of their society; we see from Kaladin's perspective for a reason. In fact, the lighteyes who are perpetuating this system are the ones who are too biased to give this a "fair and objective" look. The people who are on the bottom, who are on the receiving end of this kind of punishment are, in fact, the ones with the clearest and most unbiased understanding of what's happening. We do not let people be ground under the oppressor's boot and then refuse to listen to them because they only have one view of the boot.

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@Stormtide_Leviathan and @Greywatch, I think part of my thought process that I couldn't exactly explain was put very elegantly into words here:

4 hours ago, IllNsickly said:

I have said it in other threads here, but...

 

Trying to ascribe OUR worldly morality to a mythical (albeit FANTASTIC and evolving) reality doesn't work. 
 

So much of the Cosmere is a century or further behind Human development on Earth, and personally, I think BS has been handling the Social Ideals very well.

With that in mind, the Morality of the Bridge Crews is perfectly in line with Rosharan Ideology. If you look at Humanity 2-300 years ago and take Feudalism into account, Blood and political dissent were more relevant than anything else. ‘If I feel you have slighted me, then you deserve whatever I can give you’

For us, yes, completely abhorrent and unacceptable. For the Development on Roshar, it does seem reasonable. 
 

Things are changing and quite a lot more quickly than they have in the Real World, but trying to apply RW Morality to a (fictional) society centuries behind us in development just doesn’t fit.

I do think you're right that no one deserves slavery and no one deserves to die. That was incorrect of me. But if someone told you: "here is a murderer and here is a law-abiding citizen. Choose one to be executed, or they will both die," don't kid yourself -- you'd still choose. And when I talk about criminal justice reform, I do know that I specifically mentioned the real world, but I guess what I meant to say is with an ideal justice system (and I do know that the American justice system is far from that). As for the 1:10 ratio, no, it's obviously not a magic number. It's just a rough guideline. So, yes, there are flaws in my reasoning and places where I misspoke, but they're not totally relevant to my overall conclusion -- not that I actually have one. Maybe I didn't make this clear enough: I don't yet have a concrete opinion, and I don't know if I ever will. I just thought this would be a really interesting debate to have. And it has been that so far.

22 minutes ago, beewall said:

Ah yes, the person on the recieving end of those horrors is "too close to the issue" to speak on what the bridge crews are like.

We are not talking about the experience of the bridgemen here; so yes, when thinking about the bridge crews as an abstract moral concept, I would like to have more than one perspective on the issue. As for numbers, I mentioned in an earlier post that we do not have them, because Brandon doesn't publish casualty reports. Again, I'm thinking about the bridge crews as an idea, and you're thinking about Sadeas.

Edited by PiedPiper
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2 minutes ago, PiedPiper said:

@Stormtide_Leviathan and @Greywatch, I think part of my thought process that I couldn't exactly explain was put very elegantly into words here:

I do think you're right that no one deserves slavery and no one deserves to die. That was incorrect of me. But if someone told you: "here is a murderer and here is a law-abiding citizen. Choose one to be executed, or they will both die," don't kid yourself -- you'd still choose. And when I talk about criminal justice reform, I do know that I specifically mentioned the real world, but I guess what I meant to say is with an ideal justice system (and I do know that the American justice system is far from that). As for the 1:10 ratio, no, it's obviously not a magic number. It's just a rough guideline. So, yes, there are flaws in my reasoning and places where I misspoke, but they're not totally relevant to my overall conclusion -- not that I actually have one. Maybe I didn't make this clear enough: I don't yet have a concrete opinion, and I don't know if I ever will. I just thought this would be a really interesting debate to have. And it has been that so far.

The bolded part is where your argument falls completely apart, because that is not what's happening in the books. There is no one in the Alethi caste system saying, "Sadeas, you have to put some of these criminals to death or else we'll start killing law-abiding citizens." Nobody forced the lighteyes to do this; no one forced them to create this system. Your little "choose one to be executed" is completely besides the point and actually has nothing to do with the morality of the bridge crews.

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Just now, Greywatch said:

The bolded part is where your argument falls completely apart, because that is not what's happening in the books. There is no one in the Alethi caste system saying, "Sadeas, you have to put some of these criminals to death or else we'll start killing law-abiding citizens." Nobody forced the lighteyes to do this; no one forced them to create this system. Your little "choose one to be executed" is completely besides the point and actually has nothing to do with the morality of the bridge crews.

Okay, I think you're wrong that it's not a comparable situation. The soldiers would die from Parshendi arrows if not for the bridgemen. And nobody is forcing this theoretical person to decide either. But now the question you're debating is: do bridge crews actually save lives?

And that's a whole different discussion.

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Just now, PiedPiper said:

Okay, I think you're wrong that it's not a comparable situation. The soldiers would die from Parshendi arrows if not for the bridgemen. And nobody is forcing this theoretical person to decide either. But now the question you're debating is: do bridge crews actually save lives?

And that's a whole different discussion.

Whether the soldiers would 100% die if not for the bridgemen is actually up for debate. And they don't, because we know directly, verbatim, from the books, that the bridgemen are supposed to die. Therefore, the lighteyes decided the certain deaths of the people they designated as disposable (criminal, slave, etc.) was better than the possible death of the lighteyed soldiers. This is immoral.

Even if they were trading a certain death of a criminal for the certain death of a lighteyed soldier (which they aren't), it would be immoral.

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4 minutes ago, Greywatch said:

Whether the soldiers would 100% die if not for the bridgemen is actually up for debate. And they don't, because we know directly, verbatim, from the books, that the bridgemen are supposed to die. Therefore, the lighteyes decided the certain deaths of the people they designated as disposable (criminal, slave, etc.) was better than the possible death of the lighteyed soldiers. This is immoral.

Even if they were trading a certain death of a criminal for the certain death of a lighteyed soldier (which they aren't), it would be immoral.

Again, this answers a different question than the one I asked, and I can't see us ever getting anywhere debating it because, again, we don't have numbers.

So are you saying that you would rather kill the normal man than the murderer? Because I don't believe in the death penalty, but I also don't believe that anyone would actually chose to save the bad person over the good one.

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2 minutes ago, PiedPiper said:

Again, this answers a different question than the one I asked, and I can't see us ever getting anywhere debating it because, again, we don't have numbers.

So are you saying that you would rather kill the normal man than the murderer? Because I don't believe in the death penalty, but I also don't believe that anyone would actually chose to save the bad person over the good one.

I hold to the principle that criminal rights are human rights. I think trying to make this into a "pretend you're in a situation where you have to make this very narrow, absurd choice" is disingenuous and unrealistic. Making up situations like that to make the immoral thing sound less immoral comes through very clearly. Being asked questions like this as if one could actually simplify two human lives into a situation where you try to frame it as obviously people will make this choice fills me with disgust.

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7 minutes ago, Greywatch said:

I hold to the principle that criminal rights are human rights. I think trying to make this into a "pretend you're in a situation where you have to make this very narrow, absurd choice" is disingenuous and unrealistic. Making up situations like that to make the immoral thing sound less immoral comes through very clearly. Being asked questions like this as if one could actually simplify two human lives into a situation where you try to frame it as obviously people will make this choice fills me with disgust.

It might fill you with disgust, but it's a necessary choice. My point is that no, this isn't some absurd situation where you must decide the fate of two people, but an irreversible dilemma that will still be an issue regardless of whether or not you're filled with disgust about it. Your personal feelings are irrelevant if the lives of thousands are at stake -- and before we return to the "do bridge crews really save lives?" question again, which is a pointless argument, let's just assume that said thousands are at stake. Your argument boils down to you not wanting the guilt weighing down on you, the blood on your hands. That isn't a good reason. You're missing the point here: it's not about their criminal status, it's about the ratio of lives you lose to live you save. Just because you'll feel sad about it doesn't mean you shouldn't do it.

Edited by PiedPiper
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2 minutes ago, PiedPiper said:

It might fill you with disgust, but it's a necessary choice. My point is that no, this isn't some absurd situation where you must decide the fate of two people, but an irreversible dilemma that will still be an issue regardless of whether or not you're filled with disgust about it. Your personal feelings are irrelevant if the lives of thousands are at stake -- and before we return to the "do bridge crews really save lives?" question again, which is a pointless argument, let's just assume that said thousands are at stake. Your argument boils down to you not wanting the guilt weighing down on you, the blood on your hands. Regardless of whether their criminal status, that isn't a good reason.

I mean, to the bolded, no it isn't. You've created this question, not realizing that the entire frame of your argument falls apart when the reader doesn't accept the premise of the question. You've created the framing of "be willing to kill bridgemen or you are personally responsible for the deaths of thousands" - this is not good framing. It's reductive, it's not compelling.

What I'm disgusted with is the willingness to reduce this very complex situation - one that was discussed, considered, and answered very well by the events of WoK - into a fake-deep frame of "an irreversible dilemma" as if the Alethi weren't doing fine before Sadeas invented bridgemen, as if the Kholins didn't figure out a perfectly fine way to protect their soldiers' lives without the need for bridgemen... The book is much more complex than the arguments in this thread.

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6 minutes ago, Greywatch said:

I mean, to the bolded, no it isn't. You've created this question, not realizing that the entire frame of your argument falls apart when the reader doesn't accept the premise of the question. You've created the framing of "be willing to kill bridgemen or you are personally responsible for the deaths of thousands" - this is not good framing. It's reductive, it's not compelling.

What I'm disgusted with is the willingness to reduce this very complex situation - one that was discussed, considered, and answered very well by the events of WoK - into a fake-deep frame of "an irreversible dilemma" as if the Alethi weren't doing fine before Sadeas invented bridgemen, as if the Kholins didn't figure out a perfectly fine way to protect their soldiers' lives without the need for bridgemen... The book is much more complex than the arguments in this thread.

No, we didn't get a discussion of it in WoK, we got Kaladin's thoughts on it. I'm just trying to talk about it with more than one person, and yes, it is an irreversible dilemma. Sadeas is in a war. Granted, it's a war he started, and I believe he was wrong to do it. But it's still his responsibility to preserve as many lives as he can, and we're not even debating about the bridge crews anymore; you're just nitpicking my language. I wanted to have an intelligent discussion about the morality of the bridge crews, and we've gotten into a pissing contest about criminal justice. This is not what this thread was supposed to be about.

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Just now, PiedPiper said:

No, we didn't get a discussion of it in WoK, we got Kaladin's thoughts on it. I'm just trying to talk about it with more than one person, and yes, it is an irreversible dilemma. Sadeas is in a war. Granted, it's a war he started, and I believe he was wrong to do it. But it's still his responsibility to preserve as many lives as he can, and we're not even debating about the bridge crews anymore; you're just nitpicking my language. I wanted to have an intelligent discussion about the morality of the bridge crews, and we've gotten into a pissing contest about criminal justice. This is not what this thread was supposed to be about.

Kaladin's thoughts are important; and we also get Dalinar's thoughts on it. We get Dalinar and Sadeas arguing about it. The entire climax of WoK depends on the question of the bridgecrews.

What we know from the books:

- The purpose of the bridgemen is to die, to distract the Parshendi from shooting at the trained lighteyed soldiers.
- The reason Sadeas creates this system is for speed, in order to raise the chances to reach the plateaus in time.
- Sadeas is one of many highprinces - this is not an Alethi strategy to protect lives; this is one highprince's strategy to gain wealth.
- The Kholins can similarly protect their trained lighteyes' lives with their shields and armour and chulls carrying bridges; their only downside is time.
- Therefore, the purpose of intentionally putting bridgemen up to be arrow fodder is not to protect lives, but to gain wealth.
- Since the Alethi are perfectly capable of making war and setting up other means of protecting their men without bridgemen, we are told almost this clearly: bridgemen are sent to die so that Sadeas can get gemhearts.

So you can imagine why I looked at this thread and found the question of "are the bridgecrews moral" both completely misses the point of what Dalinar, not Kaladin, ends up deciding about the morality of the situation, but also has to ignore the facts of the bridge crews' existence in order to make the moral question more "difficult". It's not difficult; WoK makes it clear.

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Is the use of Bridge Crews as done by Sadeas ethical? No.  

I think the key hurdle you have to cross to say that the bridge crew tactics are not unethical is that there is not a known better way to achieve the military goal of crossing the chasms without losing trained soldiers.  Remember: the goal of the bridge crews is to distract the enemy archers until the main fighting force is able to begin crossing the chasm.  Once the bridges are in place, the soldiers are now targeted by enemy attack.  So what we have to compare is the lives saved or lost during the approach to the final chasm and the bridges being secured in place.

We know that the Kholin armies have a way to keep the trained soldiers safe from enemy attack until the point of crossing the chasm, without requiring the sacrifice of other soldiers.  We also know that in their early days on the Shattered Plains, the Kholin army won many gemhearts using this tactic.  So despite what Sadeas says, it's not impossible to be effective without using the bridge crews.  Therefore, we know that it is unethical to use the bridge crews because they are a military tactic that is known to cost more lives than other similarly effective alternatives.  

So why does Sadeas use this tactic, despite knowing that it is not more effective in battling the Parshendi?  The answer is greed and internal rivalry.  He chooses to use bridge crews because they are faster.  The main advantage he gains is that he can beat other Alethi armies to the chrysalises.  To him, this is worth it.  His main goal is to beat everyone else all the time in all possible ways.  So of course he uses the bridges.  He's sacrificing lives to satisfy his own personal greed.  I don't think it's unethical to put serious criminals in risky positions in war as punishment.  What's unethical is sending people to die when there is no valid military tactical need to do so.

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