War and Moral Dissonance

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This collection of essays, inspired by the author’s experience teaching ethics to Marine and Navy chaplains during the Iraq War, examines the moral and psychological dilemmas posed by war. The first section deals directly with Dr. Peter A. French’s teaching experience and the specific challenges posed by teaching applied and theoretical ethics to men and women wrestling with the immediate and personal moral conflicts occasioned by the dissonance of their duties as military officers with their religious convictions. The following chapters grew out of philosophical discussions with these chaplains regarding specific ethical issues surrounding the Iraq War, including the nature of moral evil, forgiveness, mercy, retributive punishment, honor, torture, responsibility, and just war theory. This book represents a unique viewpoint on the philosophical problems of war, illuminating the devastating toll combat experiences take on both an individual’s sense of identity and a society’s professed moral code.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"....Military readers may find War and Moral Dissonance worth buying just for its powerful opening essay....has fine passages that deserve to be read and digested...."
—Major Douglas A. Pryer, USA, Wales, UK, Military Review

"French (Arizona State) makes a unique and insightful contribution to the literature arising out of the war on terror....The opening chapter is worth the price of the book alone.... This volume is suitable for a wide range of readers, including military chaplains.... Recommended...."
—S.D. Lake, Trinity Christian College, CHOICE

"...this book should be studied in preparation for command. It provides a wonderful insight into the fragility of the human condition both in terms of witnessing the horrors of modern warfare and how even disciplined Western militaries contain individuals who will revert to the basest of human behaviour.... For the naval reader who lacks combat experience ashore, this book provides an alternative viewpoint on how difficult the last decade has been on our army and marine colleagues..."
—Dave Mugridge, Canadian Naval Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781107000483
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 10/25/2010
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr Peter A. French is the Lincoln Chair in Ethics, Professor of Philosophy and the Director of the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics at Arizona State University. He is the author of twenty books including, most recently, Ethics and College Sports (2004), The Virtues of Vengeance (2001) and Cowboy Metaphysics: Ethics and Death in Westerns (1997). He is a senior and founding editor of Midwest Studies in Philosophy and his articles have appeared in numerous philosophical and legal journals.

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Table of Contents

1. The two-collar conflict: a philosopher's memoir of the Iraq War; 2. Our better angels have broken wings: human nature and the nature of evil; 3. Responsibility for innocence lost; 4. Virtuous responses to moral evil; 5. Assessing attempts at moral originality; 6. Public and private honor, shame, and the appraising audience; 7. Torture; 8. Community and worthwhile living in Second Life; 9. Of merels and morals: musts and oughts; 10. Inference gaps in moral assessment: individuals, organizations, and institutions; 11. Blaming whole populations: the American people and the Iraq War; 12. The moral challenge of collective memories; 13. Corporate responsibility and punishment redux; 14. Mission creep.

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