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True Faith And Allegiance

True Faith And Allegiance: The Burden of Military Ethics

Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 256
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    True Faith And Allegiance
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4591-4
    Subjects: Business, Philosophy, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    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 to usual ethical standards because ʺallʹs fair in love and war.ʺ This book proceeds in the firm conviction that ethics in the military is possible, desirable, and necessary. It is probably best, at the outset, to describe first the vexations...

  5. 1. Military Ethics: Is There Any Such Thing?
    (pp. 7-21)

    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: ʺWhat is military ethics?ʺ I was prepared for that: ʺItʹs the study of honorable and shameful conduct in the armed services,ʺ I responded. I was not prepared for his response: ʺYou canʹt very well teach such things to the military, now can you!ʺ Teaching philosophy to undergraduates was fine, he said, but real soldiers who knew the real world...

  6. 2. The U.S. Military: Sovereign or Subordinate?
    (pp. 22-38)

    In Robert Heinleinʹs remarkable novelStarship Troopers, a student is asked to explain the difference between a soldier and a civilian. Drawing upon his course text, the student responds: ʺThe difference … lies in the field of civic virtue. A soldier accepts personal responsibility for the safety of the body politic of which he is a member, defending it, if need be, with his life. The civilian does not.ʺ¹

    Aristotle argued that in order to understand something, one had to inquire into its functions: What, after all, was it supposed to do? To understand the United States military, one has...

  7. 3. Military Training: Inculcating Fidelity to Purpose
    (pp. 39-55)

    ʺTo inculcate,ʺ explains one dictionary, means ʺto teach persistently and earnestly.ʺ 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 values. A taxonomy of ʺlevels of learningʺ popular some years ago (and still, somewhat curiously, employed at some military schools today) lists knowing, comprehending, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluation as the steps on the ladder of learning. Students of ethics might well respond that...

  8. 4. Military Education: Analyzing Fidelity to Purpose
    (pp. 56-73)

    A professional military force exists principally to fight its countryʹs wars and, if need be, to kill its countryʹs 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 challenge and rigor produces soldiers who cannot perform their jobs.

    The tension associated with training is that soldiers must be taught both to obey legal orders without hesitationandto disobey illegal orders. In order to achieve that split purpose, soldiers must be both trained in skills and educated in values. Their true...

  9. 5. Military Codes: Mars and Cupid
    (pp. 74-95)

    In Roman mythology, Mars was the god of war, and Cupid was the god of love. Among the words we derive fromMars, of course, ismartial. Among the words we derive from Cupid arecupidity, meaning strong desire, especially for wealth, andconcupiscent, referring to strong appetites, especially lust. The tension between Mars and Cupid, dating at least to Roman times, may be particularly strong today.¹ Understood properly, the code of the warrior, with its emphasis on sacrifice, ʺwill stand the test of any ethics or philosophies the world has ever known,ʺ said General MacArthur, because ʺit emphasizes the...

  10. 6. Active Duty: Enlisting, Serving, Resigning
    (pp. 96-114)

    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 ʺtaking hillsʺ and ʺmistreating prisoners.ʺ More often than not military ethics is about seemingly simpler things such as false reporting or degradation of subordinates. Military ethics demands that we be able to distinguish between honor and shame and thus be able to choose appropriately among competing obligations.

    The most serious challenges we can see for military ethics as we enter the twenty-first century will lie in the...

  11. 7. The Profession of Arms: The Full Measure of Devotion
    (pp. 115-132)

    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 of wisdom and virtue annealed into habit by good education. Although it is true that soldiers are not moral philosophers, it is not at all correct that soldiers are not moral beings. One does not have to be a restaurateur to eat, and one does not have...

  12. 8. Excursus: Teaching and Learning about Military Ethics
    (pp. 133-147)

    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 as issues of public morality are (abortion, capital punishment, DNA research), issues of private morality (lying, cheating, stealing) are also critical, a colleague criticized the piece. The critic, arguing that moral people will not be common until there are moral institutions, planned to continue teaching about oppression...

  13. Epilogue
    (pp. 148-153)

    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 ʺfix the impression.ʺ¹ That is, he suggests that teachers repeat their principal points and review the ground covered, lest the main points of their teaching be obscured or lost. Thus to fix the impression is the purpose of this brief epilogue.

    Education is different from training in that good education concerns itself in substantial part with virtue. A course of schooling that cannot or will not separate right from wrong or honor...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 154-188)
  15. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 189-198)
  16. Index
    (pp. 199-204)