This page last modified September 11, 2011
Everything from here on is subject to drastic revision.
Syllabus is here! (.pdf)
A slideshow on Professional Ethics
A couple of links:
Vol.16, No. 2 Spring 1997Professions and War (pdf)
Html version of the Ethical Theory Slide Show available here.
A list of definitions or metaphors for war.
Some good old-fashioned German views , and other miscellaneous quotes.
Just war is contrasted with Holy War, and the differences are specified by John Yoder. This distinction has become more important in light of recent events.Additional Readings:
There is an entry in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy on Just War
Another summary of Just War principle
A NY Times article quoting Walzer and other Just War Theorists on the WTC attacks, or more specifically, on the response.
Best to go straight to the best collection of links on these issues, Lawrence Hinman's Ethics Updates Military Ethics section.
And there is the Theology Library section on Peace that has some documents that might be of interest from the church history point of view.
First, the classic De jure belli ac
pacis (The Law of War and Peace) by the Father of modern
international law, Hugo Grotius. Read as much of this as
can stand, but at least the first chapter of Book I.
The UN Charter See especially Chapter 1, Article 2, Sections 3 & 4; and possibly Chapters 6 and 7
A good site for basic documents, including the Hague and Geneva Conventions, is the University of Minnesota's Human Rights page.
Here you can find the text of almost all international agreements concerning armed conflict, or you can go straight to the horse's mouth at the International Committee of the Red Cross
Theories of Noncombatant Immunity
Second, an article from the JSCOPE conference in 1996:
The Ethical-Legal Dimensions of Strategic Bombing During WWII: An Admonition to Current Ethicists
by LTC Peter R. Faber, United States Air Force Academy
The author suggests that ethicists are not noncombatants in information warfare!! Ouch! This certainly points out the difficulty of asserting ethical standards in situations of conflict.
Just for illustration, here is a site that tries to assertion
of noncombatant deaths in WWII (reliable?)
Excerpt from Machiavelli's Art of War
Report by the Special Rapporteur to the United Nations, for recent actions by the International community.
A Paper from the Center for Defense
Information , "Soldiers of
Fortune Ltd.: A Profile of Today's Private Sector Corporate Mercenary
Firms," By David Isenberg
A bit on nomadology
and the war machine.
For some additional reading, Col. Dunlap's The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012 and perhaps his follow-up, MELANCHOLY REUNION: A REPORT FROM THE FUTURE ON THE COLLAPSE OF CIVIL-MILITARY RELATIONS IN THE UNITED STATES
Item # 1:
Sun Tzu: the Art of War. The classic Chinese work on the subject, admired both by military and business. Read the first and last Chapters (that's 1 & 13)
We have serveral choices here.
First it the very old translation by Giles , often trashed but at least in the public domain. It would help if we could at least trust the transcription: 13:27 should read "important element in warfare," not "in water". Argggh! Best to always check your etext. Better version of Giles from Florida.
And if your browser and so forth do Chinese, there are quite a few versions of the Orignal Text (only useful if you do Chinese as well). Check out The Art of War at Project Gutenberg.
Best of all would be a hard copy, if you have one handy. The Griffiths
translation (Oxford University Press, 1963) began the current
interest in the text (a Cold War translation?). The best
translation into English to date is by Roger Ames (Ballantine
Books, 1993). Avoid Cleary, any thing that mentions
business, finance etc, and martial arts and video game versions. Good
Item # 2
Moral Status of Military Deception
By Major John Mark Mattox, US Army
The basics: hope this renders on your browser better than it does on mine! Thanks again to the conference formerly known as JSCOPE (now ISME).
Item # 3
from "The Ethics of Espionage" by yours truly.
Have a really good week, really. No, really! REALLY!
It might seem reasonable to assume that military and politicians decide how to use their weapons. More often than not, however, the weapons themselves determine their uses. And the more devastating the weapon, the higher the price, the greater its role tends to be in the decision-making process.
Allan Forbes, "Atrocities", Boston Review
Some interesting, if debateable, ideas are being put forward on the ethics of autonomous lethal machines for use in combat. While this has the potential to go all sci-fi on us, it may be worthwhile to examine some of the arguments.
Pentagon exploring robot killers that can fire on their own. Very recent press coverage. Notice the amphiboly in this title? Fire on their own? Friendly fire isn't, even from robots.
"Governing Lethal Behavior: Embedding Ethics in a Hybrid Deliberative/Reactive Robot Architecture" Ronald C. Arkin, Mobile Robot Laboratory, College of Computing,Georgia Institute of Technology (Warning, large pdf file! 117 pages.) Seems to be making the argument that machines can be more ethical than human combatants. Read through p. 13.
A Military Turing Test. As long as the performance of the machines in target selection is indistinguishable from actual humans, then they are legal combatants.
Where it all began! Battle Bots!
Go back to "The Challenge of Peace," again here, and read paragraphs122-198, and 309-321.
A 2003 news article on the moral status of nuclear weapons in Islam.
We have already had a lot of coverage of modern antipersonnel weapons. Here is the 1980 United Nations, UN Conference on certain Conventional Weapons
And the Ottawa Treaty Banning Landmines is interesting.
The Marines get into non-lethal weapons. Of all people!
Throughout history, changes in culture and technology have influenced the character of military force and the manner in which it is employed. In the sense that non-lethal weapons represent an attempt to maximize the utility of military force in a new military and political environment, they represent advances in technology precipitated by a change in culture.The application to MOOTW, where what we want to do is to control people without having to actually use force, or even non-lethal force.... so if we could just brainwash them all, . . . but this does not challenge Clausewitz's definition of war at all. Remember Walzer, "What makes war ugly is the success of coercion." Maybe concentrating on the destructiveness of weapons is to miss the point?
If the just war tradition asserts that war is only justified as a lesser of evils, the fact remains that it is still an evil. This puts those responsible for conducting wars in the unenviable position of having to commit evil. Our topic for this week is what happens when good people have to do bad things.
As Walzer points out, Machiavelli is central to this view of politics. Some excerpts from his Discourses .
And as well a more recent consideration of the paradoxes of violence in The Ethics of Ambiguity by existentialist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir.
Further Reading: A rather good article on "Dirty Hands" centering on
Elie Wiesel's Dawn
"Ghosts, God and the Problem of Dirty Hands" by Rod Nicholls in Ars Disputandi, The Online Journal for Philosophy of Religion Volume 4 (2004)
The paradox of power is the observation that attempts to use power to ensure an outcome can have the opposite effect. A typical example from Game Theory is the voting paradox, where if someone who has enough votes to win seeks to cinch the election, they can end up losing.
The End of War, the End of History, the End of Philosophy.
We also have two short pieces by Thomas Merton. These both come from the '60's, and so may seem rather polemical. The first is a reaction to the Cuban Missle crisis, entitled "Red or Dead" . The second is a more general reflection on the collateral damage of war upon even our language and ways of thinking, with Vietnam being Merton's ready-to-hand example. These are the tough questions any theory of justified war has to answer, and even moreso any professional soldier. Happy reading.