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A Shot Not Taken: Teaching About the Ethics of Political Violence

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Abstract

With the War on Terror in its eighth year and with America’s continued presence in Afghanistan and Iraq the issue of political violence has continued salience for American college students studying politics. In this paper we focus on an approach to teaching about the ethics of political violence. We first sketch out an approach to teaching about Aristotelian, Utilitarian and Kantian approaches to ethics and then an interactive exercise using a series of mini-case studies and mini-simulations to get students engaged in thinking about different approaches to thinking about the ethics of political violence.

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... Second is the hope that simulations allow students to better approach and understand difficult topics. Asal and Schulzke (2012) used simulations to help students understand the complexities of applying ethical reasoning in a situation of political violence. Simulations were a means to help students grapple with the ethical dilemmas encountered by combatants on the battlefield. ...
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Political science professors have been using simulations to try to enhance student learning for years. Simulations are interesting, a nice change of pace from the traditional lecture, and allow for more student participation in class. But do they really make a difference when it comes to actual learning, and to longer term engagement with the material and with politics? This study attempts to examine the actual impact that simulations are having, by examining attitudes and understanding before and after taking part in a simulation. We study whether participation in classroom and Model United Nations simulations leads to increases in civic attitudes, behaviors, and political literacy. Using data from two semesters, five courses, and two clubs, we examine the statistical evidence to see if it supports the beneficial claims in the scholarly literature.
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Simulations are an excellent tool for teaching and have been used in many disciplines including in various subfields of political science, notably in international relations. We focus on the value of employing simulations in the classroom to complement the pedagogy surrounding political theory and related fields such as professional ethics and moral philosophy. Simulations, we believe, provide a unique educational benefit to the teaching of these subjects by supplying a concrete context for students to engage in ethical decision making, encouraging them to relate theory to practice. Simulations can achieve this goal, we argue, if they provide students with an immersive experience that confronts them with ethically significant choices. Further, we claim, game design theory and practices offer a useful tool set for designing simulations that can do exactly that. In this article, we discuss the educational benefits of using simulation to teach normative theory and present the principles that guide us in designing these simulations, drawing on some ideas in game design theory. Finally, we present a primaries campaign management simulation we have written and ran.
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This research offers innovative ways to study fanaticism in higher education. It builds on simulations of regional crises to test four expectations and discusses their implications. The first, on the benefits of experimental learning, is supported: participants identify with their actors and show little empathy to rivals, indicating they learn the script and play seriously. So simulations provide an effective method to study fanaticism and should be used more frequently. Findings on crisis negotiations show that participants disregard fanaticism in the scenario, consider themselves as moderates, and label rivals as fanatic. Rather than admitting deadlock or defeat, they regard negotiation outcomes as compromise. These results refute three expectations: perceptions of fanaticism are not knowledge-based or bias/prejudice free; success and outcome assessment are not based on relative goal attainment; and common heuristics rather than individual inclinations shape perceptions and ways of coping with fanaticism. Together, negotiations, feedback, and in-depth debriefing on appeasement, other policy alternatives, and the role heuristics create a comprehensive simulation experience. Further applications of experimental learning in political science could enhance the role of education as a crucial means to confront fanaticism and minimize its dangers.
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Military ethics is not a field known to take inspiration from Kantian-inspired thinkers. Demonstrating how an ethicist who takes Kantian commitments seriously addresses controversial questions in the profession of arms, this volume examines some of the less frequently studied topics within military ethics such as women in combat, military careerism, homosexuality, teaching bad ethics, immoral wars, collateral damage and just war theory.
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Kant is not typically considered a major figure in the just war tradition's canon, although his work has informed recent discussions about international justice and just war theory. More specifically, philosophers have suggested that Kant's work may provide a coherent, normatively practical just war theory, basing this claim, in the main, on his views on the goal of peace and its purpose of establishing a cosmopolitan civil society.1 Such discussions are mostly concerned with jus ad bellum and jus in bello constraints on nations and how Kant's writings can guide deliberation and, perhaps, the considered policy and practices of governments. Yet, the fact remains that it is embodied men and women and not the metaphysical `nation' who actually conduct war. Hence, this paper seeks to determine the extent to which Kant's thought might contribute to the moral deliberation of those individuals who a fortiori will be bound to jus in bello constraints. To this end, the idea of moral learning will be explored, emphasizing the Kantian idea of autonomy. The ultimate goal of this paper is to demonstrate how some aspects of Kant's thought would contribute to ethics education in a military academy.
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The US Army conducts extensive training on its core values beginning with Initial Entry Training (commonly referred to as basic training) in order to shape soldiers' behavior and decision making in combat and non-combat situations. This paper addresses the apparent limited empirical research on the effect of US Army Initial Entry Training on soldier's moral development. The study which is the subject of this paper employed a mixed methods quantitative/qualitative model. The Defining Issues Test was administered at the beginning and conclusion of Military Police (MP) Initial Entry Training to determine change in soldiers' moral judgment. This study also used focus groups of MP Initial Entry Training soldiers to identify key factors that soldiers said influenced changes in their moral development. Data analysis of Defining Issues Test scores revealed no significant changes in scores of the overall sample or within the categories of age and educational level. Gender tests revealed a decline in personal interest scores among females, females having higher postconventional scores than males, and no change in scores among males. Focus group results revealed the relationship with drill sergeants as having a significant impact on moral development. This study provides feedback to trainers and commanders that can be used to design effective moral and character education and thereby prepare soldiers for decision making and morally consistent behavior in combat and non-combat situations.
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The introduction explains how this essay articulates the issue of ‘justice after war’ from the point of view of just-war theory, and how such a view can and ought to impact upon international law, for instance by inspiring the eventual development of a new treaty, or Geneva Convention, exclusively concerned with issues of postwar justice. In the body of the essay, attention is first given to explaining why just-war theory has traditionally ignored, or even rejected, jus post bellum. Second, argument is made as to why this ignorance and rejection must be overcome, and replaced with information and inclusion. Third, principles drawing on traditional just-war theory are constructed and defended, for jus post bellum in general and for forcible postwar regime change in particular. Finally, several remaining challenges are addressed, seeking to dissolve doubts and strengthen resolve towards working for progress on this vital and topical issue of jus post bellum.
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After reviewing the advantages and disadvantages in using simulations to teach International Relations, this paper develops pedagogy for using simulations to teach International Relations (IR) theory. After discussing methods for integrating simulations into a class on IR theory the paper then goes on to present three simulations and the theories that they can be used to teach. The three simulations are the Classical Realism Game, Prisoner's Dilemma to the Nth degree, and Diplomacy. Finally, the three simulations are compared.
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This article contends that in crucial respects effective soldiers are ethical soldiers, that good soldiers in the military sense are good soldiers in the moral sense, and that this is so for quite traditional reasons. The thesis is defended by identifying and then resolving basic paradoxes regarding what soldiers must be trained to do or be, e.g.: be trained to kill but also not to be brutal; be trained to react in combat situations almost automatically but also to deliberate and decide if a command is unlawful; as peacekeepers, be trained to be impartial but also to know right from wrong and be firmly committed to upholding the former and opposing the latter. It is shown that contradictory things are not really thus being called for. With the aid of a blend of deontology and virtue theory, it is argued that certain standard qualities of effective soldiers have an associated moral dimension. For example, true military courage implies an unwillingness to engage in cruelty; the self-control on which success of missions depends implies eschewing motives of personal vengeance; and the capacity for comprehending complex equipment and data implies a mentality for assessing the validity of orders.
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Sadly, there are few restraints on the endings of wars. There has never been an international treaty to regulate war's final phase, and there are sharp disagreements regarding the nature of a just peace treaty. There are, by contrast, restraints aplenty on starting wars, and on conduct during war. These restraints include: political pressure from allies and enemies; the logistics of raising and deploying force; the United Nations, its Charter and Security Council; and international laws like the Hague and Geneva Conventions. Indeed, in just war theory—which frames moral principles to regulate wartime actions—there is a robust set of rules for resorting to war (jus ad bellum) and for conduct during war (jus in bello) but not for the termination phase of war.
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There are few circumstances among those which make up the present condition of human knowledge, more unlike what might have been expected, or more significant of the backward state in which speculation on the most important subjects still lingers, than the little progress which has been made in the decision of the controversy respecting the criterion of right and wrong. From the dawn of philosophy, the question concerning the summum bonum,1 or, what is the same thing, concerning the foundation of morality, has been accounted the main problem in speculative thought, has occupied the most gifted intellects, and divided them into sects and schools, carrying on a vigorous warfare against one another. And after more than two thousand years the same discussions continue, philosophers are still ranged under the same con-tending banners, and neither thinkers nor mankind at large seem nearer to being unanimous on the subject, than when the youth Socrates listened to the old Protagoras,2 and asserted (if Plato’s dialogue be grounded on a real conversation) the theory of utilitarianism against the popular morality of the so-called sophist.
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Stein and I see targeted killing in fundamentally different ways. Stein sees the Palestinian terrorists as civilian noncombatants who are not engaged in war or even armed conflict with Israel. As such, there is no legal or moral right to target them. I see targeted killing as an appropriate response to an intolerable threat. Israel has the right and obligation to defend itself against armed Palestinians who seek to kill as many innocent Israeli civilians as possible. So long as the Palestinian Authority is incapable or unwilling to halt terrorist attacks, most interpretations of international law, Israeli law, and just war tradition support Israel's efforts to stop these murderous attacks before they can be carried out.
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Just war theorists contended that weapons are illegitimate unless they can be used in such a way so as to distinguish combatants from noncombatants. Contemporary international legal theory also draws heavily on the principle of discrimination. The Geneva Convention (IV), as interpreted in the Second Protocol of 1977, says: “The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack…Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited.” In both the Just War tradition and contemporary international law, the main justification for such a principle has to do with noncombatant immunity, the idea that only those who are combatants can legitimately be attacked in war. The principle of discrimination also relies on the idea that it is possible to distinguish, in a morally significant way, those classes or groups of people who participate in wars from those who do not. The categories of “civilian” or “soldier,”“combatant” or “noncombatant,” are thought to be stable. Yet, the case of the naked soldier taking a bath challenges such stability in a way that illustrates the serious conceptual and normative problems with identifying such social groups. In this paper I argue that, because of these problems, the traditional principle of discrimination offers no clear, morally relevant, line between those who fight and those who do not. Nonetheless, I argue that a distinction of this sort should be maintained, although one that will restrict tactics in war far more than is normally recognized.
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abstract Can torture be morally justified? I shall criticise arguments that have been adduced against torture and demonstrate that torture can be justified more easily than most philosophers dealing with the question are prepared to admit. It can be justified not only in ticking nuclear bomb cases but also in less spectacular ticking bomb cases and even in the so-called Dirty Harry cases. There is no morally relevant difference between self-defensive killing of a culpable aggressor and torturing someone who is culpable of a deadly threat that can be averted only by torturing him. Nevertheless, I shall argue that torture should not be institutionalised, for example by torture warrants.
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Since November 2000, Israel has been implementing an assassination policy in the occupied territories. The Israeli policy is both illegal and immoral. The legal questions are much more complicated than would appear from David's argument. Although individual killings may be lawful in specific cases, this debate concerns a policy providing systematic justification for such acts. Neither international nor Israeli law ensures any backing for this policy. Armed Palestinians are not combatants according to any known legal definition. They are civilians–which is the only legal alternative–and can only be attacked for as long as they actively participate in hostilities. The argument that this policy affords the public a sense of revenge and retribution could serve to justify acts both illegal and immoral. Clearly, lawbreakers ought to be punished. Yet, no matter how horrific their deeds, as the targeting of Israeli civilians indeed is, they should be punished according to the law. David's arguments could, in principle, justify the abolition of formal legal systems altogether. The Israeli government has not endorsed the minor changes of policy that David suggests, and for a reason. Israel's initial refusal to acknowledge the very existence of this policy and even its later hesitant admission suggest it is aware of the problems the policy entails and of the difficulties of dismissing them. Assassinations have been part of Israel's security policy for many years, and Israel is currently the only democratic country that regards such measures as legitimate. The Palestinian violations of international law, however, cannot be used to grant legal and/or moral legitimation to these violations when perpetrated by others.
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Since the beginning of the second intifada in the fall of 2000, Israel has pursued a policy in which alleged Palestinian terrorists have been hunted down and killed by government order. The policy is not one of assassination and is consistent with international law because Israel is engaged in armed conflict with terrorists, those targeted are usually killed by conventional military means, not through deception, and the targets of the attacks are not civilians but combatants or are part of a military chain of command. Targeted killing has also been affirmed by Israel's High Court. Although targeted killing has been pursued by Israel throughout its history, the scale of the present effort and the use of sophisticated military assets such as helicopter gunships and jet fighters set it apart from earlier practices. The effectiveness of the policy is called into doubt because it has not prevented–and may have contributed to–record numbers of Israeli civilians being killed. The policy has also resulted in informers being revealed, intelligence resources diverted, potential negotiating partners eliminated. It has also produced murderous retaliation and international condemnation of Israel. Benefits of the policy include impeding the effectiveness of terrorist operations, keeping terrorists on the run, and deterring some attacks. In addition, it affords the Israeli public a sense of revenge and retribution. Because it targets the actual perpetrators of terrorism, targeted killing provides a proportionate and discriminate response to the threat Israel faces. Improving the policy will require better civilian oversight, greater care to eliminate harm to innocent bystanders, and refraining from killing political leaders. Despite its many shortcomings, Israel is justified in pursuing this policy so long as it faces a terrorist threat that the Palestinian Authority will not or cannot control.
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In this new edition of the classic book on the moral conduct of war, Sidney Axinn provides a full-length treatment of the military conventions from a philosophical point of view. Axinn considers these basic ethical questions within the context of the laws of warfare: Should a good soldier ever disobey a direct military order? Are there restrictions on how we fight a war? What is meant by "military honor," and does it really affect the contemporary soldier? Is human dignity possible under battlefield conditions? Axinn answers "yes" to these questions. His objective in A Moral Military is to establish a basic framework for moral military action and to assist in analyzing military professional ethics. He argues for the seriousness of the concept of military honor but limits honorable military activity by a strict interpretation of the notion of war crime. With revisions and expansions throughout, including a new chapter on torture, A Moral Military is an essential guide on the nature of war during a time when the limits of acceptable behavior are being stretched in new directions.
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Failing to conduct a research study because it involves deception or invasion of privacy is as much an act to be evaluated on ethical grounds as is conducting such a study. A classroom exercise was designed to teach that there are several vantage points from which the ethical evaluation of a study can be made. Role-play and discussion are used to sharpen critical thinking and develop an appreciation of the subtleties of research ethics.
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The contrast typically made between utilitarianism and virtue theory is overdrawn. Utilitarianism is a universal emulator: it implies that we should lie, cheat, steal, even appropriate Aristotle, when that is what brings about the best outcomes. In some cases and in some worlds it is best for us to focus as precisely as possible on individual acts. In other cases and worlds it is best for us to be concerned with character traits. Global environmental change leads to concerns about character because the best results will be produced by generally uncoupling my behavior from that of others. Thus, in this case and in this world, utilitarians should be virtue theorists.
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EXTREME PACIFIST. (2009). Satanic American/British Babykillers: State Terrorism of the Iraqi People 2009 [cited December 20 2009 2009]. Available from http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm? fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=272163372&blogId=521706293.
Lather and Nothing Else In The Flight of the Condor: Stories of Violence and War from Colombia
  • Té Llez
TÉ LLEZ, HERNANDO. (2007). Lather and Nothing Else. In The Flight of the Condor: Stories of Violence and War from Colombia, edited by Jennifer Edwards, and H. Valderrama: University of Wisconsin Press.
Ethics Education Character Development: Who 'Owns' Ethics in the US Air Force Academy
COOK, MARTIN (2008). Ethics Education, Ethics Training, Character Development: Who 'Owns' Ethics in the US Air Force Academy. In Ethics Education in the Military, edited by Paul Robinson, Nigel De Lee, and Don Carrick. Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing.
Constructions of Reason
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Kantian Thinking About Military Ethics Either Take a Shot Or Take a Chance
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FICARROTTA, CARL J. (2010) Kantian Thinking About Military Ethics. Burlington: Ashgate. FILKINS, DEXTER. (2003). Either Take a Shot Or Take a Chance. New York Times.
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  • James Barry
BARRY, JAMES (1998) The Sword of Justice. Westport, CT: Praeger.
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  • Martin Cohen
COHEN, MARTIN (2004) Wittgenstein's Beetle and Other Classic Thought Experiment. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.
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  • Martin Cook
COOK, MARTIN (2008). Ethics Education, Ethics Training, Character Development: Who 'Owns' Ethics in the US Air Force Academy. In Ethics Education in the Military, edited by Paul Robinson, Nigel De Lee, and Don Carrick. Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing.
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