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Torture and the Military Profession
 
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Torture and the Military Profession
 
 
Palgrave Macmillan
 
 
 
 
 
04 Oct 2007
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£73.00
|Hardback Print on Demand
  
9780230001824
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eBooks ebook on Palgrave Connect ebook available via library subscriptions ebook on ebooks.com 
 
 


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DescriptionReviewsContentsAuthors

Torture is banned in international law and condemned by government and military officials. Yet military torture is widespread. Despite the military's claim to be a profession bound by high moral standards, military personnel are involved in the illegal and immoral use of torture. This discrepancy between rhetoric and reality demands explanation. What's wrong with the military profession?

Torture and the Military Profession explores this question by bringing together a philosophical analysis of military professional ethics with an examination of military training and the training of torturers. Jessica Wolfendale argues that by claiming professional status, the military is constrained by high moral standards that forbid the use of torture. Yet in most cases it is military personnel who are torturers. She demonstrates that this discrepancy between rhetoric and reality occurs not because of human weakness but because basic and elite military training instils dispositions linked to crimes of obedience, aided by a perverted version of professionalism. By undermining the ability of military personnel to uphold the laws of war, she argues that this training seriously undermines the military's claim to be professional. If the military is genuinely committed to its stated moral values, then it must radically rethink current training methods.


Description

Torture is banned in international law and condemned by government and military officials. Yet military torture is widespread. Despite the military's claim to be a profession bound by high moral standards, military personnel are involved in the illegal and immoral use of torture. This discrepancy between rhetoric and reality demands explanation. What's wrong with the military profession?

Torture and the Military Profession explores this question by bringing together a philosophical analysis of military professional ethics with an examination of military training and the training of torturers. Jessica Wolfendale argues that by claiming professional status, the military is constrained by high moral standards that forbid the use of torture. Yet in most cases it is military personnel who are torturers. She demonstrates that this discrepancy between rhetoric and reality occurs not because of human weakness but because basic and elite military training instils dispositions linked to crimes of obedience, aided by a perverted version of professionalism. By undermining the ability of military personnel to uphold the laws of war, she argues that this training seriously undermines the military's claim to be professional. If the military is genuinely committed to its stated moral values, then it must radically rethink current training methods.


Reviews

'A timely and thorough investigation of the gap between norm and behaviour in relation to torture: the way military training affects soldiers' deliberation and choice, and undermines the military's claim to be a profession. Wolfendale's conclusions are disturbing. Highly recommended reading for soldier and civilian, scholar and general reader alike.' - Igor Primoratz, Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, University of Melbourne, Australia

'Jessica Wolfendale's book is focused on the tension between the need to teach soldiers to obey orders both ordinarily and in extreme situations and the need to teach them the restraints of law and morality and the reflectiveness necessary to make hard decisions in frightening circumstances. She wants to resolve the tension in favor of the second need, though she acknowledges the importance of the first to the effectiveness of the army. Her argument that military training as it is now done leads to unreflective obedience, even to the use of torture, is carefully constructed and elegantly made. It deserves our close attention.' - Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, USA

'Far from being one more vague condemnation of torture in the abstract, this deeply troubling book argues that military personnel who become torturers are not deviants or sadists, but are obedient, disciplined, and loyal combatants.  Wolfendale maintains that modern military training aims at undermining combatants' moral agency and makes it virtually impossible for them truly to embody the military virtues.  Confronted on their own favorite ground of the ethics of virtue, defenders of military morality owe Wolfendale a serious answer.  This book pulls no punches and raises profound issues about the extent to which the 'war on terrorism' can avoid crimes of obedience like torture supposedly permitted by extreme circumstances.' - Henry Shue, author of 'Torture' [1978] and Professor of International Relations, University of Oxford, UK


Contents

Introduction
Professions and Professional Ethics
Virtue Ethics and Professional Roles
Professional Ethics and the Military
Obedience in the Military
Military Torture
Military Training and Moral Agency
The Moral Psychology of Torture
Conclusion


Authors

JESSICA WOLFENDALE is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne, Australia. She has published on military ethics, the ethics of torture, and moral philosophy.