The Professional Military Ethic
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS
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Understanding the professional military ethic PME first requires understanding the conceptual foundations upon which it stands. This foundation includes objective morality, the sociology of professions, professional ethics in general, and the profession of arms. This thesis argues that a genuinely normative professional ethic derives from objective morality through the context of a particular professional role. Any other approach fails to generate genuine normativity. This assertion conflicts with recent accounts of the PME that seek its source in various artifacts of our military culture and society. Moral obligation is a product of individual abilities and relationships. Professional roles generate a common set of abilities and relationships. Morality constrains the professional role, dictating what professionals must do, may do, and may not do for clients. Given similarities in our roles, the PME does not differ substantially across military services or even across nations. Understanding of the PME, however, varies greatly. Any professions understanding of its ethic is a function of how well that profession has discerned and formally articulated that ethic. Achieving our full professional potential requires that we articulate our ethic. Despite a number of formidable obstacles, we can articulate a functional account of our ethic that is sensitive to the unique demographic characteristics of our profession. The author offers a conceptual account of the moral foundations of a professional ethic. He then offers an articulation of our professional ethic, organized around our specific professional roles, and provides commentary on the account to demonstrate its serviceability to the profession.
- Sociology and Law
- Military Forces and Organizations