True Faith And Allegiance
The Burden of Military Ethics
Publication Year: 2014
James H. Toner is professor of international relations and military ethics at the U.S. Air War College and author of Morals Under the Gun.
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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As a political theorist, I have long been interested in international politics, national security studies, American government, political philosophy, ethics, theology, history, and literature. One field, I have found, comprises all of them: military ethics. The term is not easy to define; in fact, my principal task in...
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This book must overcome two main obstacles. The first is created by those, often connected with the far left of the political spectrum, who argue that military people have already renounced ethics by donning uniforms. The second is created by those, often connected with the far right of the political spectrum, who argue that military people should not be accountable...
1. Military Ethics: Is There Any Such Thing?
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At a garden party not long ago I was introduced to a British Royal Air Force group captain. When our host identified me as a professor of military ethics, the group captain smiled and asked the question I knew was coming: "What is military ethics?" I was prepared for that: "It's the study of honorable and...
2. The U.S. Military: Sovereign or Subordinate?
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In Robert Heinlein's remarkable novel Starship Troopers, a student is asked to explain the difference between a soldier and a civilian. Drawing upon his course text, the student responds: "The difference . . . lies in the field of civic virtue. A soldier accepts personal responsibility for the safety of the body politic...
3. Military Training: Inculcating Fidelity to Purpose
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"To inculcate," explains one dictionary, means "to teach persistently and earnestly." Teaching may mean educating, or it may mean training. The two are often mistakenly equated, but knowing the critical—even vital—difference between the two is central to the themes presented in this book. At its best, education has to do with examining and instilling...
4. Military Education: Analyzing Fidelity to Purpose
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A professional military force exists principally to fight its country's wars and, if need be, to kill its country's enemies. Military training must therefore be faithful to this fundamental purpose. Training that is brutal and dehumanizing instills neither necessary skills nor correct values; training that lacks appropriate...
5. Military Codes: Mars and Cupid
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In Roman mythology, Mars was the god of war, and Cupid was the god of love. Among the words we derive from Mars, of course, is martial. Among the words we derive from Cupid are cupidity, meaning strong desire, especially for wealth, and concupiscent, referring to strong appetites, especially lust. The tension...
6. Active Duty: Enlisting, Serving, Resigning
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It is all very well in military ethics to speculate about difficult, if relatively rare, combat cases. But, as is often emphasized in this book, military ethics concerns far more than issues about "taking hills" and "mistreating prisoners." More often than not military ethics is about seemingly simpler things such as false reporting...
7. The Profession of Arms: The Full Measure of Devotion
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As pointed out in the last chapter, students of military ethics must beware the simple answer and the moral zealot. Although codes and dogmas and rituals can serve well as guides to honorable conduct in trying circumstances, there are no shortcuts to morality. Ethical actions do not simply occur; they are the product...
8. Excursus: Teaching and Learning about Military Ethics
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An excursus is a detailed discussion of some point, inserted at the end of a text. This one is about how to teach and learn moral philosophy and, more particularly, military ethics. One professor of ethics, Christina Hoff Sommers, tells an intriguing story. After she pointed out in an article that as important...
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There is a wonderful book by Gilbert Highet in which he tells prospective teachers, among many other things, that they must, at the end of their courses, firmly "fix the impression."1 That is, he suggests that teachers repeat their principal points and review the ground covered, lest the main points of their teaching...
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Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2014