Latest articles

Middle Ages to the Modern World: Grotius and the modern laws of war
While various customs and traditions of war-making have been there since the beginning of written history, the idea of “laws” that all sides should obey crystalised in the context of early modern European politics. The philosophical challenges posed by the Renaissance and the changing patterns of war due to the technological military revolution of the time brought forward a whole new set of ideas about how war should be conducted. Religion-based customs of waging a war had already been discuss...
The military ethics of the Teutonic Knights.
Despite the fact that Northern Crusades are quite often overlooked in Western historiography, it is hard to deny that they have played a significant role in the formation of Eastern Europe and the history of crusading. Holy war on the shores of the Baltic Sea facilitated the creation of the most powerful monastic state in medieval history and its subsequent century-long struggle with neighbouring kingdoms (Kasecamp, 2010). It is in the Northern Crusdades that the Teutonic Knights grew in pow...
Moral authenticity in the armed forces: what we can learn from Aristotle and Sartre
(This is from a talk given at St Cyr, France, 2008). What can the military learn from two – what we may readily call – quintessential philosophers? Aristotle – the man of enormous intellectual capacity and breadth of learning, and Sartre – the verbose existentialist, influential playwright and intellectual? It may be countered, what can the military educationalists not learn from these men? Of the many elements that can be taken from Aristotle and Sartre, I’ve chosen to focus on the moral...
Unlimited Liability
Soldiers and Unlimited Liability Military members are routinely asked to perform tasks and respond to things that ordinary members of the civilian population are not expected to do. Military members are exposed to significant risk of physical and mental impairment, forced to take medications, unable to refuse medical treatment (even if they do not believe it is the most appropriate treatment), are subjected to medical experimentation (not always with full consent), and can even be required ...
Anarchism and the Military
Anarchism in the Military Overview The military seems a case study in what anarchy is not. Following strict rules and regulations, Obeying orders descended down a chain of command, seeking maximum order and discipline in the ranks at the expense of freedom, sacrificing all to a single objective. With no one and nothing in charge, by contrast, anarchy allows everyone to do as they please, inviting social disorder and eventual chaos. Isn’t that right? Below, the armed forces are not only...
Just War and Rothbardian Libertarianism
In this article, Lottieri expands on the libertarian perspective of just war theory through the writings of Murray Rothbard. A libertarian is one who believes in minimal state – one that is set up only to defend its citizens against external or internal aggression; Rothbard proclaims a anarcho-capitalist perspective which is not only highly skeptical of any state activity but which also considers that most, if not all, the state’s services could be better provided through the market. In his...
Purity of Arms: Combatants as Voluntary Actors in a Social Contract
In this article, Paul Madariaga seeks to draw military ethics into the political philosophy of contractarianism – or the theory that society is founded upon an implicit social contract. In defending a contractarian thesis, he claimes that war can be deemed an extension of the social contract theory and is found in the varieties of types of war from ritualized warfare to wars committed under international treatises and agreements on the ‘laws of war’; he draws attention to the problem of draftee...
Justifications of the Armed Forces
A primary consideration that should be raised in military ethics, once we have accepted that military acts are a viable subject for ethics, is whether the armed forces possess any moral justification for existing in the first place. After all, arming a group of people is an extraordinary process with multifarious repercussions concerning why, who, how, and to what end. It should not be held as a given that states or polities do or should possess a military, just as it should not be held as a ...
British Atrocities in Counter Insurgency
BRITISH ATROCITIES AND COUNTERINSURGENCY Introduction All too often over recent years allegations have come to light concerning the wrongful behaviour of British troops in Iraq. After a notable court martial involving personnel from the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, a corporal was found guilty of inhumane treatment of civilians and his Commanding Officer acquitted. There remains suspicion that witnesses lied and that the Royal Military Police (RMP) investigation was grossly flawed. A sim...
No Fly Zone
Introduction A no-fly zone is an area in which aircraft are not permitted; domestically, this may be over areas deemed to be of national or personal security, so that flying aircraft over Buckingham Palace in the UK or the Taj Mahal in India are prohibited as is flying over various nuclear research centres around the world. However, in the military context a no-fly zone is an airspace that is either a mutually accepted demilitarized area or the assertion of supremacy by one country over anoth...
Legal Positivism
Behind much military ethical discourse is the question whether the use or threat of force against another can be legitimized? If so, then the armed forces would achieve a professional justification that could in turn provide a moral umbrella for certain actions within the military realm of action (and hence delegitimize others) from the appropriate authority structures. On the other hand, acts that are not legitimized by authority are therefore said to be beyond what is right or fair. Military e...
Why Military Ethics
A sketch Clausewitz, the great war logician, famously referred to the ‘fog of war’ – that war generates such confusion that generals soon lose contact with their forces and hence the minutiae of strategies and logistics on the ground. Ethically, the military faces the same problem: once men and women are armed they stand apart from the civil order of peaceful interaction and hence pose an implicit and explicit moral problem, and as their actions are further removed through battle the ethica...
Militarism
Militarism (Sketch article) Militarism assumes that the martial order provides the primary explanation and directive of ethics – that life in all its forms (sexual, commercial, aesthetic, religious, etc.) should bow to the martial order. War and the military profession provide the standard but also the guide for the civil order – without the military, the argument proceeds, the civil order would be nothing, so it is only right for the military to define the characteristic and tone of ethics:...
Total Warfare
Total warfare describes the negation of principles of just conduct in war, although the war is typically fought between combatants rather than against non-combatants (see Totalitarian War)....
Totalitarian Warfare
Totalitarian War and Ethics Those who assert that ethics cannot exist in warfare may be alluding to what can be called ‘totalitarian warfare,’ a form of warfare that rejects any possibility of ethical action. On this account, any action in war is permissible – war is not just a breaching of the moral frontier that is said to exist between the civil and military order, but an annihilation of that frontier. All is fair in war. The guiding proposition in totalitarian warfare is that there is...
Aerial Bombing
In this article Moseley reviews the emergence of aerial bombing in the early twentieth century and its relationship to legal codes and the just war conventions With the advent of planes, it was not long before they were being used by pilots for military purposes - initially for reconnaissance and then for shooting at each other in the sky. But as the First World War proceeded, some pilots were dropping small hand-held bombs from the sky on the enemy below and by the 1920s the potential of t...
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Web design by Island Webservices.