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Capella University Do you align more with the traditional or revisionist view of the moral equality on combatants?

Capella University Do you align more with the traditional or revisionist view of the moral equality on combatants?

ANSWER

In the debate over the moral equality of combatants (MEC), one’s perspective can align with either the traditional view or the revisionist view. To address this ethical dilemma, I will examine both viewpoints and then apply the ethical theories of deontology and consequentialism to justify my own position.

The traditional view of MEC asserts that soldiers on both sides of a conflict are considered equally honorable, regardless of the justness of the war they are fighting. This perspective emphasizes soldiers’ duty to obey orders and trust their leaders’ judgment on the morality of the war. From a deontological perspective, which focuses on the inherent moral principles and duties, this traditional view can be justified. Deontology argues that individuals have a duty to follow certain rules and obligations, irrespective of the outcomes or consequences. In this context, soldiers have a duty to follow orders and fulfill their obligations as members of a military unit, regardless of their personal assessment of the war’s justness.

On the other hand, the revisionist view of MEC challenges the traditional stance by suggesting that soldiers fighting in an unjust or illegal war are not morally equal to those engaged in self-defense. This viewpoint highlights soldiers’ moral responsibility to evaluate the justness of the war they are involved in and act accordingly. Applying virtue ethics, which focuses on the development of virtuous character traits, we can justify the revisionist perspective. Virtue ethics suggests that individuals should cultivate traits like courage, integrity, and wisdom. Soldiers adhering to this view might be driven to critically assess the justness of the war they’re partaking in and potentially abstain from fighting if they perceive the war as unjust, reflecting virtuous behavior.

Consequentialism, an ethical theory that emphasizes the outcomes or consequences of actions, can be applied to both views. From a consequentialist standpoint, the traditional view of MEC might be supported by arguing that following orders and maintaining discipline within the military structure can lead to overall societal stability, which could be considered a positive consequence. Alternatively, the revisionist view can be justified by asserting that soldiers refusing to participate in unjust wars can contribute to the prevention of unnecessary harm and destruction, aligning with the consequentialist principle of promoting the greatest good for the greatest number.

In considering these perspectives, I align more with the revisionist view of the moral equality of combatants. This alignment is based on the recognition of soldiers’ individual moral agency and the need for critical evaluation of the justness of the war they are engaged in. Applying virtue ethics and recognizing the importance of personal integrity and moral character in decision-making reinforces this alignment. Additionally, from a consequentialist standpoint, allowing soldiers to act on their moral judgments can contribute to the prevention of unnecessary harm and uphold a higher ethical standard within military operations.

Capella University Do you align more with the traditional or revisionist view of the moral equality on combatants?

QUESTION

Description

In LDR 951S “Power, Status and Influence”, we introduced you to an article by Daniel Strand entitled “Ethical reasoning and military leadership”. (For your reference, this article is attached HERE. The author provided an overview of ethical theories and offered a method for thinking about ethical dilemmas. For this essay, consider the following prompt first, then answer the question below.

Moral equality of combatants (MEC) is a key element underpinning international humanitarian law (IHL).The MEC is the principle that soldiers fighting on both sides of a war are equally honorable, unless they commit war crimes, regardless of whether they fight for a just cause. According to a traditional reading of MEC, soldiers should obey their leaders when fighting because they are not well-placed to determine the justness of a war. However, in 2006, philosopher Jeff McMahan began to contest MEC, arguing that soldiers fighting an unjust or illegal war are not morally equal to those fighting in self-defense. According to this revisionist view, a soldier or officer who knows or strongly suspects that their side is fighting an unjust war has a moral obligation not to fight it, unless this would entail capital punishment or some other extreme consequence.

A recent (Sagan & Valentino, 2019) study found that the majority of Americans endorse the revisionist view on MEC and many are even willing to allow a war crime against noncombatants to go unpunished when committed by soldiers who are fighting a just war.

Question: Do you align more with the traditional or revisionist view of the moral equality on combatants?

In responding to this ethical dilemma, justify your answer with using at least one ethical theory: deontology, virtue ethics, and/or consequentialism. Make sure to explain each theory before you use it.

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