Military Ethics And Character Development

Authored by: Martin L. Cook

Routledge Handbook of Military Ethics

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415743686
eBook ISBN: 9781315813516
Adobe ISBN: 9781317801771


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Ethics and the importance of personal character and honor are pervasive themes in the rhetoric and discourse of the U.S. military profession. If one listens carefully to military discourse, the common words and expressions used to discuss ethics are “integrity,” “professionalism,” and “character.” On the other hand, recent years have witnessed significant and embarrassing ethical failures at all levels, including among senior officers of all services. This chapter will describe the ways military organizations typically approach education and training aimed at developing individual character in their personnel and at teaching and training for ethical conduct in the force collectively. It will examine some of the philosophical and psychological assumptions that underlie those efforts. It will critically assess the limits and challenges to those assumptions. Finally, it will draw on some contemporary research in moral psychology to suggest ways the military might augment its traditional approaches if the goal is indeed to better assure ethical conduct.

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