Taking into consideration the Vikings absence of awareness of wrongdoing, do you think that makes them less evil than pirates of more recent date?In Egil’s Saga, the Vikings were described as...

Taking into consideration the Vikings absence of awareness of wrongdoing, do you think that makes them less evil than pirates of more recent date?

In Egil’s Saga, the Vikings were described as merchants.

Asked on by wstuv2

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This is an interesting question. It sounds to me like you are asking if a behavior can be immoral if the culture does not consider it immoral. This is kown as relativism. I would argue that the Vikings certainly did not think there was anything wrong with their actions, they were acceptable in the society, and it would be comparable to actions during war today.
lrwilliams's profile pic

lrwilliams | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

I would agree that the vikings had a different set of beliefs and morals than the rest of the people of that time. I guess if you compare them to the pirates of today you could see some similarities. They both are doing this for economic gain.

brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The author is merely concluding that the Vikings' motivations were largely economic, and that raiding and pillaging were the most economically viable option open to them.  I don't know if you can say the Vikings had an "absence of awareness" of wrongdoing or morality, I think they simply had a different set of values, more in line with their culture and the time in which they lived.  It's not as though they did not have some rather strictly observed cultural rules and laws within their civilization.  Without such rules and laws, it would have been anarchy.

I also don't know that you can describe Somali pirates as "evil".  It's a very strong term, and the kind of violent crimes they commit, while the rest of the world still has a right to defend themselves against, can largely be traced back to a country that has virtually no economic and political hope in the near term, and to a generation of people who have grown up amidst that lack of hope.  They believe they will not live to see 30, and that the ends justify the means in their desperate situation.  It's horrible to witness, as are their crimes, but I don't think "evil" comes into it as much as you might think.

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