Military ethics is a broadly interdisciplinary study, incorporating concerns about the conduct of war, decisions on how and when to engage in military operations, and issues relating to the moral psychology and care of those who serve and of veterans of military service. Traditional just war theory also plays a key role in international relations (political and moral philosophy governing when the use of military force is justified for the resolution of international conflicts) and international law (including Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) and international humanitarian law).
Military ethics focuses on the core values and moral principles that collectively govern the men and women serving in the military forces of nations around the world, as members of what is sometimes termed the “military profession” or “the profession of arms.” The ethical foundations that define the profession of arms have developed over millennia from the shared values and experiences, unique role responsibilities, and reflections of members of the profession on their own practices – eventually coming to serve as the basis for various warrior codes and the LOAC.
January 20, 2020 - Panel Discussion: "The US-Iran Crisis" hosted by Michael Scharf in a broadcast of "Talking Foreign Policy"
October 24, 2019 - Military Medical Ethics: Battlefield Care for Compatriots, Host-Nation Nationals, and Captured Persons
March 28, 2019 - McCain Conference: The Future of Military Values - Lt. General Chris Miller and Dr. Shannon French
October 15, 2018 - Artificial Ethics? The Use of AI and Autonomous Weapons by the Military
Evelyn Lincoln Institute for Ethics and Society at Mercyhurst University
November 1, 2017 - If Aristotle Waged Cyber Warfare
October 27, 2010 - International Peace and War Summit: "The Ethics of War in the 21st Century: Law, Policy, and Practice"
- Ethics of War
- War Healing
- Causes of Conflict
- Children of Peace and War
- For Profit and For Peace
- PhDs, MDs, and DoDs
- Future of Peace and War
- Q&A with Panelists
May 1, 2003 - Shanon E. French discusses new book Code of the Warrior on C-SPAN
Watch video here
July 7, 2020 - Interview: The Code of the Warrior - The Art of Manliness Podcast
December 27, 2017 - Shannon E. French's Appearance on The Dead Prussian: A Podcast about War and Warfare
The host of The Dead Prussian podcast, Mick Cook, speaks with Dr. Shannon French about her current research, her book The Code of the Warrior, and a discussion of the "importance of ethical codes to warrior cultures and how it assists societies in dealing with the impact of war."
2015: Dehumanizing the Enemy - The Intersection of Neuroethics and Military Ethics
French, Shannon and Jack, Anthony. “Dehumanizing the Enemy - The Intersection of Neuroethics and Military Ethics.” Responsibilities to Protect: Perspective in Theory and Practice. Ed. David Whetham and Bradley J. Strawser. Leiden: Brill Nijhoff, 2015, 169-195.
Military Ethics at CWRU
Case Western Reserve University's College of Arts and Sciences and School of Law introduced the first master's program in military ethics in the United States in 2017. Learn more about program requirements, curriculum, and program students and graduates here.
April 18, 2017 - Shannon E. French discusses the school's new Master of Arts in Military Ethics degree program
Thesis Prize Winners
2020 Prize Winners
1st Place: Kevin Cutright, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army
Empathy and Jus in bello, Saint Louis University
2nd Place: Joseph O. Chapa, Major, United States Air Force
Just War Traditions and Revisions, Magdalen College, Oxford
2019 Prize Winners
1st Place: Hunter Cantrell, CPT, LG - Instructor Department of English and Philosophy, United States Military Academy
Arguments for Banning Autonomous Weapon Systems: A Critique, Georgia State University
2nd Place: J. Davis Winkie
Thin Red Lines: Early Cold War Military Censorship of Hollywood War Movies, University of North Carolina at Chapel
2020 Prize: Call for Papers
In 2018, the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) established an annual prize for the best thesis in military ethics, inspired by and complementary to a similar prize offered by the esteemed Euro-ISME (International Society for Military Ethics, European Chapter) organization.
The aims of the prize are:
to promote active involvement in the study and application of military ethics, including Just War Theory; the Conduct of War; the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC); International Humanitarian Law (IHL); and other related fields that include the study of human rights issues in the context of armed conflict;
to promote engagement with the CWRU master’s degree program in military ethics and participation at Euro-ISME annual conferences; and
to publish the winning theses, in print and online in multiple languages, to foster global discussion of pressing issues in military ethics.
Two winners will be chosen each year. Both will have the opportunity to give a presentation on their winning thesis at the annual Euro-ISME conference in Europe. The first place winner will receive $2,000 in travel funding from the Inamori Center to attend the conference and a $500 prize. The second place winner will receive a $250 prize. In order to improve the accessibility of the field of military ethics in languages other than English, the Inamori Center will publish the first place winning thesis in at least two non-English languages.
Applications are encouraged from:
Non-European students, either military or civilian, in a graduate or professional-level program (including law or medical students, etc.) studying for their degree at any accredited college or university or military service academy or war college (or similar). European students are not eligible, but are strongly encouraged to submit to the annual Euro-ISME Thesis Prize.
Requirements for Thesis:
Submissions should be a single document in PDF format in English and a minimum of 7,000 words and a maximum of 12,500 words (approximately 25-50 pages, double-spaced). To submit in a language other than English, please contact Beth Trecasa, Associate Director, Inamori Center, at email@example.com.
Each submission must contain:
author name, contact information, and, if applicable, rank and branch of the military;
contact information of the higher education or military institution for which the thesis was written; and
a statement on the year when the thesis was successfully completed.
Only theses written at the level of a master’s degree, equivalent, or higher are eligible. The thesis submitted must have been written for a graduate or professional-level program either in the current academic year (2019-20) or during one of the three previous academic years (2016-17 through 2018-19). Older theses will not be considered.
A submission on any topic of ethical concern to the military will be considered, including but not limited to military ethics, war studies, security studies, cyber warfare, military history, and other corollary topics. There must be a strong ethical theme/argument in the thesis for it to be considered for the prizes.
Deadline for Submission:
January 27, 2020
Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(ATTN: Beth Trecasa, Associate Director, Inamori Center)
The jury will consist of external experts from the fields of military ethics, philosophy, law, and history, offering a combination of field experience (the practitioner’s perspective) and the academia (the theoretical perspective). The chair of the jury will be Prof. Shannon E. French, who is the Inamori Professor in Ethics; Director of the Inamori Center; and Director of the CWRU master’s degree program in military ethics.
The first prize consists of:
the opportunity to present on the thesis at Euro-ISME’s annual conference (Berlin, Germany, May 17-20, 2020);
reasonable travel and hotel costs to attend Euro-ISME’s annual conference, up to $2,000 USD*;
prize money of $500 USD;
the opportunity to publish the thesis; and
a commemorative award.
The second prize consists of:
the opportunity to present on the thesis at Euro-ISME’s annual conference (Berlin, Germany, May 17-20, 2020)*;
prize money of $250 USD;
the opportunity to publish the thesis; and
a commemorative award.
* In the event that the first place winner cannot attend the 2020 Euro-ISME conference, the Inamori Center reserves the right to offer their travel funding to the second place winner. In which case, the first place winner will still receive their $500 in prize money.