Many people believe that the violent and disruptive nature of war makes a military ethic impossible. The authors of this book, originally published in 1986 however, develop an ethical system that aims to control the military monster at least to some degree, rather than one that preaches to it idealistically – with little or no effect. Military ethics, they believe, must be an ethics for peacetime as well as an ethics for war, an ethics for soldiers in the field as well as an ethics for political leaders, and their book is designed to meet these needs. It presents a practical, utilitarian approach: an ethics of what is possible rather than what is ideal, drawing on real military experience and different from any other work previously published.
The authors argue that both the pacifists, who claim that the horrible and ungovernable nature of war makes it morally wrong, and the realists, who believe that wars must be fought, but fought without moral scruple, are mistaken. They show that careful attention to the actual circumstances in which individual combatants function and the social institutions shaping their action allows genuine moral constraint.
With its emphasis on real problems, Military Ethics will be of practical help to policy makers and military personnel at all levels, as well as being of great interest to students of applied philosophy and ethics.
Table of Contents
Introduction. Part 1: Issues of Peacetime 1. The Justification of Standing Armies 2. Issues Concerning Military Personnel 3. The Place of Codes of Ethics in the Military 4. The Military and the Other Institutions Part 2: Issues Immediately Preceding War 5. Just Cause of War 6. Role of Third Parties Part 3: Issues of Fighting War 7. The Enemy 8. Weapons of War 9. Civilians and the Military 10. Guerrilla Warfare Part 4: Post-War Issues 11. Ending War 12. War Crimes and the Crime of War 13. Demobilization. Conclusion. Notes. Bibliography. Index.
Nicholas Fotion, Gerard Elfstrom