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Showing posts from July, 2005

Conceptual overview of required philosphy course I taught at West Point

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to attempt to provide a conceptual overview of PY201, Philosophy.[I wrote this for my students, but it may interest others now, including my many former students who are leading Soldiers today in the war; course key terms are in bold.] Some of this is material that we have not covered this semester.I include it nevertheless because it will probably (hopefully?) make sense to you.

This addresses the three section of the course:
critical thinkingoverview of moral theoriesmorality and warPY201 addresses three areas of philosophy—critical thinking, moral philosophy, and morality in war.Your goal here at West Point should be to become a leader who will make the right decisions in war.To do so, you must be able to think critically in order to evaluate the various and competing theories of moral philosophy.Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what it means and entails to live morally.Once we better understand what morality is, we are able to app…

Systems thinking and preventing/treating PTSD

I'm reading Redesigning Society by Ackhof and Rovin (2003), and something occurred to me.

They describe four ways to address a problem:
absolve it--ignore it and hope it will go away.resolve it--employ behavior previously used in similar situations to get a good-enough outcome.solve it--discover or create a new behavior that yields a best-possible outcome.dissolve it--redesign the system or environment to eliminate the causes of the problem. Accordingly, IF moral guilt caused by killing in war is a cause of PTSD, then even unlimited post-combat medical screening and VA access will not take care of the problem for those afflicted. Those actions (currently being taken, with the best of intentions) treat the symptoms of PTSD, not the cause. DoD is setting itself up for long-term, resource-intensive care if it addresses only symptoms, not root causes.

We as a military profession need to "redesign" the way we think about killing. We need to recognize that it's an upsetti…

The Military Leader’s Role in Preventing and Treating Combat-related, Perpetration-Induced Psychological Trauma

Initially presented at JSCOPE 2005. This version substitutes "leaders" for "ethicists," because it's leaders at all levels who can make a difference on this issue for the Soldiers entrusted to them.

Abstract: I argue that military leaders have an important role to play in preventing and treating combat-related Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Syndrome (PITS), which is a particular form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).Recent research provides compelling evidence that guilt resulting from having killed in combat is a very significant factor in a veteran’s development of PITS/PTSD.However, the military’s medical community is not addressing this factor.This is not surprising, given that the medical community as a whole tends to focus on environmental conditions and what happens to a person, not on what a person does.Leaders, in contrast, do focus on their Soldiers’ actions and on the morality and repercussions of those actions.I propose that military leaders …

Military Leaders' Obligation to Justify Killing in War to their Soldiers

This is the unedited version. The edited version appeared in Military Review in March-April 2002.

Abstract: The methods that the military currently uses to train and execute combat operations enable soldiers to kill the enemy effectively, but they leave the soldiers liable to post-combat psychological trauma caused by guilt.This is a leadership issue.I argue that combat training should be augmented by explaining to soldiers the moral justification for killing in combat, in order to reduce post-combat guilt.Soldiers deserve to understand whom they can kill morally and why those actions are indeed moral.I outline an explanation for that moral justification.IntroductionMilitary leaders are charged with two primary tasks—to train and lead units to fight effectively in combat in accordance with the war convention, and to care for the soldiers under their command.Military professionals generally hold these two tasks to be complementary, accepting General Rommel’s statement that “the best f…