1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Morality and Knife Design

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by BlueRabbit, Sep 5, 2014.

  1. syco1138

    syco1138

    360
    Jan 8, 2014
    Could you clear up the difference between a offensive and defensive knife? From my (somewhat limited) point of view they're two sides of the same coin. The goal is to kill the other guy, who started it is hardly relevant.
     
  2. Sonnydaze

    Sonnydaze Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 6, 2009
    ...the difference between a offensive and defensive knife?

    I would think that the difference is in its use...at the time...
     
  3. RedLynx

    RedLynx Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 5, 2011
    Yeah.. this. ^

    I don't own a Civilian or Matriarch so I wouldn't presume to classify either one. If someone attacks me with one of them, it's an offensive knife. If I defend myself with one of them, it's defensive. This is the difference.

    To go off slightly but still related, handguns are the same thing, essentially. They're built with one specific purpose (I know many hunters but no one that uses a handgun for hunting, although maybe it is a popular choice for some, I am unsure). The design of a handgun and its purpose is to kill the other guy. The same could be said of these "offensive/defensive" knives, if we must label them as such. Its use at the time determines this difference.
     
  4. syco1138

    syco1138

    360
    Jan 8, 2014
    I know. I was trying to get Chris Larrken to clear up his thought process.
     
  5. fugglesby

    fugglesby

    92
    Mar 16, 2013
    I agree that it definitely seems like a contextual definition. Furthermore it seems like the context of whether someone is attacking or being attacked by a knife can be pretty grey and the sort of thing which is decided (in court for example) afterwards.
    I think what he means is a knife which is designed in such a way which means it can't be used for offence but can be used for defence. This is a really difficult thing to achieve, though things that might be applicable could include a large intimidating knife which in actuality was completely blunt apart from a section at the heel of the knife used for actual cutting. That would diffuse the situation while the intimidation device itself would be almost useless in an actual attack or crime.
     
  6. ellipticus

    ellipticus

    173
    Jan 21, 2013
    I believe you may be mistaken as to the poster's intent. Post #1 discusses the OP's intent to build a knife of his own design and questions his moral obligations as to the design of that knife. No discussion of any existing knife was made. Is he asking if designing a weapon morally justified? Neither of us know what exactly what his intent was. We need to hear from him.

    I am unconcerned with the design intent whatsoever, it means nothing. A knife is an inanimate object until it is in someone's hand. It is the user's intent to either use the knife as a tool or a weapon that is important. I stand by my statements.

    I have no moral problem with knives designed as weapons. I have an M-7 bayonet on a shelf in my bedroom that I don't lose any sleep over.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014
  7. syco1138

    syco1138

    360
    Jan 8, 2014
    I believe you're correct. In retrospect my statement was what it had become rather than what it was intended to be.
     
  8. Chris Larrikin

    Chris Larrikin

    Jul 19, 2012
    First - I'm not a knife fighting expert by any stretch and absolutely welcome a more knowledgeable person to stomp on me :) I have a bit of knowledge and a very little bit of training and am just throwing ideas out there.

    In short; I agree that any knife (and most other handheld objects) can be used offensively or defensively - not arguing that point at all - but I think the physical actions associated with offensive behaviour are different to those associated with defensive behaviour, which to me says certain designs should be more suited for defense than offense, at least in certain circumstances.

    My doctor used to do locum work in South Africa and she told me that she carried a Spyderco knife for self-defence. When I put it to her that a lot of people consider knives to be pretty poor defensive weapons, she gave me a look and said they're excellent defensive weapons for women. That made me think - obviously depending on the nature of the attack the defender will be in a different position, in a closer proximity to an attacker, able to move a different amount and have different physical options open to them. This may suggest that some knives are indeed more suitable to defense than offense.

    I realised I haven't been particularly articulate about it. It's a bit of a convoluted concept and I'm functioning on very little sleep (newborn child) so please forgive me if I am not making sense :)
     
  9. B34NS

    B34NS

    Dec 30, 2013
    As a designer, I feel ellipticus best captures my own sentiments.

    Designers since before Archimedes, Heron of Alexandria, Da Vinci, have for centuries been brilliant minds whom, happened to work for war lords. Sure many of their inventions were non-violent in intent, but even if the designer has no personal intent to do harm to others, no designer can foresee how their contributions will be used by others, especially if your boss is a war lord. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is use.

    Best moral knife design?
    [​IMG]
     
  10. GronK

    GronK Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 1, 2001
    Build what you like. To keep it moral just paint it flat black or camo and name it "tactical" something or another.Donate a few to some popular special operations unit. You'll sell a bazillion and they won't be used for anything more immoral than knifesturbating while arguing on line about whether they're better than brand X, Y, or Z for when the balloon goes up, you have to bug out, or are marooned on an island with just one knife.

    As for offensive/defensive, pointy daggers for quiet offensive opsby someone properly trained and hooked and serrated for untrained defense.
     
  11. B34NS

    B34NS

    Dec 30, 2013
    pure genius.
     
  12. syco1138

    syco1138

    360
    Jan 8, 2014
    My opinion is that a combination of stabbing and slashing ability would be ideal. Stabbing for the OH FUCK GET THE FUCK OFF OF ME, moment should it ever come, and slashing because I wouldn't have to fully commit to a stab, and because there are all sorts of "easter eggs" around the body, like points where a key muscle is at it's thinnest, rendering it easy to put a entire limb out of commission. However that the main difference between a offensive and defensive knife is intent. What makes for a good offensive knife, also makes for a good defensive knife, with the main differences being carry and legalities of said blade.
     
  13. syco1138

    syco1138

    360
    Jan 8, 2014
    Wouldn't that be a budk knife after light cutting?

    Also I don't much like the idea of relying on intimidation. Partially because sometimes it escalates rather than descelating.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2014
  14. fugglesby

    fugglesby

    92
    Mar 16, 2013
    Lol, bang on.
    As for the escalation thing, I definitely agree that occurs at times. However, as far as escalation occurs, if you ever actually end up using the knife at all on your attacker, which as far as this thread is concerned so far is the alternative, then things have already escalated to an extreme level.
     
  15. Jerry Hossom

    Jerry Hossom

    Aug 1, 1999
    I have to say that as a knifemaker this has been a fascinating read. As one who purposefully makes knives that can and have been used for violent purposes, I'll share my thoughts on the morality of what I do. I do indeed make moral judgements on the use of the knives I make. While I certainly can't prohibit their use for "immoral" purposes, my intent (the only aspect of knife design I can control) is that I see two uses of knives that are made specifically with the capacity to kill someone. One is defensive, as a weapon of last resort in defending one's person from someone trying to harm them. The other is offensive, in the termination of a person who is a threat to others, as in war. I view those as morally acceptable. My moral obligation, as I see it, is to make that weapon as reliable and utilitarian as I can, ensuring it won't fail in either of those circumstances. I could use the lame argument that if I don't make the knife someone else will and better mine than budk, but that's a cop out. The fact is I enjoy the challenge of making knives that are technically effective in the lethal roles for which they are intended. In my view, the consequences of failure may well be the death of an innocent person at the hands of a felon or someone who wishes harm to my country and family, and that is my moral judgement, the side I've chosen to take. There are some unique challenges to making a knife that is an effective killing tool; they are subtly complex in shape, require a knowledgeable selection of materials, and demand meticulous attention to how they are constructed. They have absolutely nothing to do with the word "cool", a term I despise when describing knives. In fact, I could argue that those who undertake to make "cool" knives are morally irresponsible because they are too often bought by those who think they are somehow made serviceable because they do look "cool", and they especially appeal to those whose moral character might be questionable, so they are more likely to be used for immoral purposes. As weapons of proven lethality, kitchen knives far outnumber all others in recent decades, proving that "cool" isn't a necessary element of lethal capacity. Any blade with a sharp edge is lethally competent. It doesn't need a point, and if killing is the purpose, as in the defensive and offensive examples I cited above, the person needing the knife deserves the most effective tool they can have in their hand, be it knife, gun, or brick. And that is moral, ...in my judgement.
     
  16. RedLynx

    RedLynx Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 5, 2011
    Holy crap it's Jerry Hossom!

    I have a Medium Retribution folder and I feel like I just met one of my favorite celebs here. ;)
     
  17. Chris Larrikin

    Chris Larrikin

    Jul 19, 2012
    Jerry it's great to hear the thoughts of someone who makes knives for use as weapons. I definitely agree on the idea of "cool". A knife which is a cool tool is one thing, but in my mind a dedicated weapon is never cool; it is either necessary or unnecessary. If necessary it has to be fit for the purpose. I think I said in a previous post that if a knife is intended for use in emergency or dangerous situations qualityis a major moral factor.
    Can I ask, in general terms do the knives you make for use in war/armed conflict differ much from those you make for self defence?

    I really appreciate your openness and willingness to engage with this topic as a knife maker. To my mind engaging with moral questions shows a great deal of social responsibility.
     
  18. fugglesby

    fugglesby

    92
    Mar 16, 2013
    Definitely in agreement there. Thanks for chiming in Jerry, a big fan here as well. I used your knives as an example earlier on in this thread and I've actually done so multiple times in past discussions. I feel like you wear your ideas and opinions about knifemaking on your sleeve, which is something I have great respect for. Knives like your American Kopis I feel are great examples of how you allow your philosophies to dictate your work, especially in that while they have strong aesthetic value and are very unique, this has occured because the form that you've chosen comes from a unique and very well though out perspective on the function of the knife itself. I've often used this as an example of what is really meant when people say "Form Follows Function". It doesn't mean that if something works well that it doesn't matter what the form is. Instead it means that Function and User should be taken into account and the design should be built around that. Once that's done, the form will follow and the end result will be decidedly more uniform and holistic.
     
  19. Jerry Hossom

    Jerry Hossom

    Aug 1, 1999
    Knives for military and civilian uses don't differ much. What does differ is how they are carried of course. Most civilian knives are for concealed carry, while that isn't much concern in the military except for some special operations people who like to keep something hidden for just in case moments. My most widely carried model in the military is one I designed for concealed carry by an undercover narcotics agent in Rhode Island. I call it the Narc, but it rides on a lot of vests in the military as a last line of defense weapon. Increasingly, civilians are arming themselves, both with guns and knives, with the latter most often by people who train in martial arts for their use. In truth, a knife is a dangerous weapon to carry unless you do have some training in using them because a poorly wielded knife can get you killed as easily as no weapon at all, maybe even more likely to get you killed if your antagonist is also armed and you don't know how to deal with that. But, I believe something is better than nothing in most cases, and might actually deter an attack by its very presence. I'm often asked to talk with martial arts training groups about knives and their qualities, because while they train in the use of knives, their knowledge of the weapon itself is often a bit naive. In fact, that is somewhat reflected here in the question about a sheepsfoot blade being less lethal than any other. Most knife attacks, both offensive and defensive are cuts, often aimed at points where an artery or muscle group is vulnerable. The point is irrelevant, and arguably the thicker point on many tanto's might be less effective in a cut.

    In my opinion, "designing for the market" is morally offensive. Knives should be designed for their purpose and intended use. While some artistic compromises might well be expected, the knife should retain its purpose in all cases except possibly the high art and decorative knives that are never intended to be used. A buyer should use the same mindset when buying a defensive weapon as they use when buying a kitchen knife. Does it work for what I want to do? That and the quality of its construction are all that matters, and if you don't know how to slice tomatoes and don't know what works best, you probably ought to seek advice from someone who does and learn why one knife works better than others.
     
  20. Thomas Linton

    Thomas Linton

    Jun 16, 2003
    IMO

    As the thing does not initiate any behavior, one way or the other, morality is not an issue for a maker of a knife, beyond the integrity with which he makes it and sells it.

    As the thing does not initate any behavior, one way or the other, morality is not an issue for the maker of a weapon, be it a knife or otherwise, beyond the integrity with which he makes it and sells it.


    There is a group that seems to believe that things cause behavior, but this is not the political forum.
     

Share This Page