A Moral Military

A Moral Military

by Sidney Axinn
     
 

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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? Sidney Axinn considers these basic ethical questions within the context of the laws of warfare and answers "yes" to

Overview

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? Sidney Axinn considers these basic ethical questions within the context of the laws of warfare and answers "yes" to each of these questions. In this study of the conduct of war, he examines actions that are honorable or dishonorable and provides the first full-length treatment of the military conventions from a philosophical point of view.

Axinn gives a philosophical analysis of the "Laws of Warfare" as found in the Hague and Geneva Conventions, which have been agreed to by almost every nation in the world. The aims of his study are to establish a basic twentieth-century framework for moral military action and to assist military personnel in analyzing their won professional ethic. Stating that moral reasoning is required by people in military uniform in a wide variety of situatiions, the author examines the question of the limits of military obedience.

Axinn 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. Major chapters deal with military honor, prisoners of war, spying, war crimes, the diry-hands theory of command, nuclear weapons, terrorism, and covert operations.

This philosophical study of the line between honorable and dishonorable military action cautions that in compliance with the war conventions professional military personnel and knowledgeable civilians must not lose their moral nerve nor abandon honor to satisfy immoral political requests.

Editorial Reviews

Choice
In order to make warfare more humane, the [Geneva and the Hague] Conventions require nations to teach their provisions to their entire military and civilian populations. This book is written to promote and achieve that end, to defend the rules of war and to explain the reasons for them. …it goes a long way toward teaching the basic Conventions of war and showing strong reasons for following them.
Booknews
An interesting read. If war is immoral, can a war be fought morally? According to Axinn (philosophy, Temple U.), yes. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher

“For those who relish ethical debate or for others who merely wish to take a deeper look at the moral values that underpin their profession, Axinn provides a rich commentary.”
—Military Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781592139583
Publisher:
Temple University Press
Publication date:
12/28/2008
Edition description:
Revised edition
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

What People are saying about this

Michael Walzer
Sidney Axinn addresses the hardest questions raised by the experience of war and argues his way to clear and forthright answers. His book is a virtuoso display of intellectual energy and moral courage.
— (Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study)

Meet the Author

Sidney Axinn is Professor Emeritus, Philosophy Department, Temple University, and Curtesy Professor, Philosophy, University of South Florida. He is Past President of the American Society for Value Inquiry, and the author of The Logic of Hope: Extensions of Kant's View of Religion.

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