Military Ethics Today


The Moral Victories team has recently returned from the annual convention of the International Society for Military Ethics (ISME), which was held in Annapolis, MD, over the final weekend of January. ISME is the foremost association for professional military ethicists and, as such, boasts a membership that brings together researchers and practitioners from military academies, war colleges, ministries of defence, and universities the world over. This lends its meetings a very unusual air: while the panels are every bit as rich and thought-provoking as any you’d find at a Philosophy or International Relations conference, delegates’ shoes tend to be that bit shinier, their shirts more sharply pressed, and their presentations that bit slicker.

The theme for this year’s conference was Women Serving in the Armed Forces: Shaping Modern Values and Beyond. (Details are available at: The programme, which spanned two days, showcased research on a wide array of topics, from the just war thought of Christine de Pisan and Jean Bethke Elshtain, to moral injury, to the perils of applying human augmentation to engineer enhanced soldiers, to the challenges confronting “military moms”. The conference convenors also laid on a very interesting tour of the US Naval Academy, which, as it happens, was just around the corner.

Art AthensSadly for us, we did not have a chance to attend as many panels as we would have wished. This was because we had our hands full conducting interviews with military ethics educators and military practitioners for our forthcoming MOOC, which we are producing in collaboration with Dr. David Whetham of Kings College London.  This involved three staff from Glasgow, two cameras, and seven very generous interviewees, who gave up their time to talk to us about all things “just war” and “victory” related—and a few additional things besides. The interviews themselves were conducted in a fairly laid back environment, and turned out to be both enjoyable and informative. We’ll be posting segments from them on this page over the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for them.

Last but not least, the final word has to be reserved for Chesapeake Bay crab-cakes. Simply delicious.

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