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Awakening Warrior

Revolution in the Ethics of Warfare

Timothy L. Challans

Publication Year: 2007

Awakening Warrior argues for a revolution in the ethics of warfare for the American War Machine—those political and military institutions that engage the world with physical force. Timothy L. Challans focuses on the systemic, institutional level of morality rather than bemoaning the moral shortcomings of individuals. He asks: What are the limits of individual moral agency? What kind of responsibility do individuals have when considering institutional moral error? How is it that neutral or benign moral actions performed by individuals can have such catastrophic morally negative effects from a systemic perspective? Drawing upon and extending the ethical theories of Kant, Dewey, and Rawls, Challans makes the case for an original set of moral principles to guide ethical action on the battlefield. “…[Challans’s] call for reformation combined with a demand for a new set of moral principles to govern the ethical behavior on the battlefield is certain to garner the attention and ire of many readers and military leaders.” — Parameters “This is an important book that needs to be read and taken seriously. If it is, it could be as revolutionary as its subtitle suggests.” — CHOICE

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series, Ethics and the Military Profession


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiii

The war machine lumbers along as the ghost in the war machine slumbers. The war machine is competent yet unself-conscious, confident of its moral character yet unvirtuous. The military institution in America—the war machine—is asleep at the wheel, and the individuals within it are deep in dogmatic slumber. ...

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pp. xv-xvi

Many thanks go to my academic professors, colleagues, and students, from Johns Hopkins University, the Military Academy at West Point, the United States Naval Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS), Israel’s Operational Theory Research Institute (OTRI)...

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1. The Unreflective Life: The Sleep of Reason

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pp. 1-27

As this book goes to print, there should be little controversy that the American war machine has failed to bring about the political, social, and economic transformation in the Middle East that the machine’s operators thought it could achieve at the dawn of the new millennium. The little remaining controversy will most likely be kept alive by pretty much the same...

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2. The Pseudo-Reflective Life: Battle Sleep

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pp. 29-72

And so Kendrick uttered an ideological military commonplace in his own defense at the trial. In this fictional account, a marine officer draws moral understanding from doctrinal teaching: a book of military doctrine and a book of religious doctrine, military and religious authority. At the same time, this narrative is part of popular culture and informs through example...

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3. The Semi-Reflective Life: Instrumental Means

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pp. 73-104

Instrumental means are, most simply, methods that help us achieve some end. “Deliberation, it might be held, is essentially the selection of means to some end. Here, the best known classical tag for the view is Aristotle’s statement that ‘we deliberate not about ends but about what contributes to ends.’”1 ...

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4. The Quasi-Reflective Life: Inadequate Ends

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pp. 105-136

Inadequate ends are ends that are in need of revision in order for them to be legitimate or moral ends. Unless we are fully conscious of what our ends are and how they fit into a larger moral context, they could be inadequate. As long as we do not deliberately challenge, discuss, debate, and deliberate over ends, they could be inadequate. ...

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5. The Fully Reflective Life: Autonomy for Automatons

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pp. 137-175

Every ethics teacher in the military hears the same perennial questions from the warriors they teach. What was wrong with dropping the bombs on Japan? Wouldn’t we have lost a million soldiers, or several hundred thousand? Why didn’t they leave the military alone during Vietnam so we could have won an overwhelming victory? ...

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6. The Fully Reflective Life and Military Ethics

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pp. 177-186

Many within the war machine will not agree with the bulk and thrust of my argument, especially those whose work requires that they be mouthpieces for policy. My critics must remember, though, that the leaders of the war machine are responsible for creating, sustaining, or changing the policies; they are not merely passive executors of policy. ...


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pp. 187-213


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pp. 215-217

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About the Author

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p. 219

Tim Challans is a native of Colorado. A West Point graduate, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in philosophy at The Johns Hopkins University. For more than ten years he has taught more than a thousand military students from the rank of cadet to colonel, at West Point (USMA)...


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pp. 221-227

E-ISBN-13: 9780791479919
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791471258
Print-ISBN-10: 079147125X

Page Count: 243
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: SUNY series, Ethics and the Military Profession
Series Editor Byline: George R. Lucas Jr. See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 173189854
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Awakening Warrior

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Subject Headings

  • Military ethics.
  • War -- Moral and ethical aspects.
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