Military Ethics


Military Ethics 

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.


    June 29, 2021: Shannon E French - On 'The Code of the Warrior' and Ethics of War

    June 28, 2021: Biased Data, Killer Robots, and Other Issues in Artificial Intelligence (AI)

    March 10, 2021 - The Human Choices of Artificial Intelligence at War

    Prio's Peace in a Pod

    Listen Here

    July 7, 2020 - Interview: The Code of the Warrior - The Art of Manliness Podcast

    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

    Flyer provides a brief description of the military medical ethics event being held at 1:00pm on 10/14/2019 in Tink room 280F.

    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

    January 25, 2018 - War Crimes: Causes, Excuses, and Blame 

    International Society for Military Ethics Conference


    November 1, 2017 - If Aristotle Waged Cyber Warfare


    If Aristotle Waged Cyber Warfare, While US cyber security experts have nervously awaited a "cyber Armageddon" our adversaries have top-toed up behind us, engaging in "state-sponsored hacktivism." How do we discern new norms of responsible behavior in this environment where adversaries now interfere now interfere in elections and copy and steal millions of private personnel records? As always, Aristotle offers some useful advice. Dr. George R. Lucas, Jr. is the CRWRU Visiting Distinguished Inamori Scholar.

    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."

    September 15, 2014 - International Regulation of Emerging Military Technologies 

    March 23, 2011 - Challenge's to the Warrior Code: From Private Contractors and Corrupt Command Climates to Terrorism and Torture: 

    Part 1
    Part 2

    October 27, 2010 -  International Peace and War Summit: "The Ethics of War in the 21st Century: Law, Policy, and Practice"

    May 1, 2003 - Shanon E. French discusses new book Code of the Warrior on C-SPAN

    Watch video here


    MA Program

    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


    MA Thesis Prize

    Inamori International Thesis Prize in Military Ethics 2019 | 2020

    We are proud to present a special volume of The International Journal of Ethical Leadership, which includes 2019 and 2020 Inamori International Thesis Prize in Military Ethics winners' contributions in English, Spanish, and French. The publication can be viewed online in the CWRU School of Law's Scholarly Commons. Print versions will also be available later this summer.

    The aim of Inamori International Thesis Prize is to promote involvement in the study and application of Military Ethics. In order to improve the accessibility of the field, the Inamori Center publishes the winning theses in at least two non-English languages. 

    Read Now

    IJEL Special Volume 1

    2020 and 2021 Winner Presentations for the 2021 EuroISME Annual Conference

    Watch Now

    2020 and 2021 Inamori Thesis Prize winners







    Thesis Prize Winners

    2021 Prize Winners

    1st Place: Laura K. Graham, PhD, Executive Director, Yemen Accountability Project 

    Malum In Se: Starvation Crimes in International Law, Case Western Reserve University

    2nd Place: Nathan J. Riehl, Captain, United States Army

    The Virtuous (Human) Soldier: A MacIntyrian Approach to Moral Education in the US Army, University of Pennsylvania

    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



    2021: Call for Papers 


    The Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence awards an annual prize for the best thesis in military ethics 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. 

    In an effort to foster global discussion of pressing issues in military ethics and improve the accessibility of the field in languages other than English, the Inamori Center publishes the winning theses, in print and online, in multiple languages.

    Two winners will be chosen for the Inamori International Thesis Prize in Military Ethics in 2021. The Inamori Center will publish the first place winning thesis and an abstract of the second place winning thesis in multiple languages as a special volume of The International Journal of Ethical Leadership. The 2019 and 2020 prize winners are being published in English, French, and Spanish. 

    This Inamori thesis prize complements a similar award available to Europeans offered by the esteemed Euro-ISME (International Society for Military Ethics, European Chapter) organization. 

    Both winners will also have the opportunity to give a presentation on their winning thesis at the annual Euro-ISME conference. As the 2021 conference is anticipated to be virtual, travel funding will not be made available, instead:

    • The first place winner will receive a $1000 prize. 

    • The second place winner will receive a $500 prize. 

    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 instead 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

    • Each submission must contain:

      • author name, contact information, and, if applicable, rank and branch of the 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 (2020-21) or during one of the three previous academic years (2017-18 through 2019-20). 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:

    February 15, 2021

    Contact Email: 

    (ATTN: Beth Trecasa, Associate Director, Inamori Center)


    The Jury

    The jury will consist of external experts from the fields such as military ethics, philosophy, law, and history, offering a combination of field experience (the practitioner’s perspective) and 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;

    • prize money of $1000;

    • the opportunity to publish the thesis; and

    • a commemorative award.

    The second prize consists of:

    • the opportunity to publish an abstract of the  thesis; and

    • a commemorative award.

    Publications and Presentations

    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. 

    Prof. Shannon E. French Presentations

    • "Maintaining a Warrior Ethos and Values on the Modern Battlefield: Reconciling a Code of the Warrior with Automated Systems and Artificial Intelligence,” distinguished guest lecture for United States Marines Corps officers, NCOs, and officer candidates, U.S. Marine Corps Base Quantico, Quantico, Virginia, December 12, 2019.


    • “Geneva Conventions at 70: Changing Times, Enduring Principles,” Distinguished speaker, guest of the British Government and the British Red Cross for the official commemorative event, Lancaster House, London, United Kingdom, October 16, 2019.


    • “Ethics and Emerging Technology – Promises and Perils for the U.S. Army” Chaplain (Colonel) Sonny & Martha Moore Military Ethical Leadership Lecture at the United States Army War College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, June 26, 2019.


    • “Ethical Issues of Integrating A.I. in Military Decision-Making,” Security and Human Behavior, Harvard University Law School, June 6, 2019.


    • “iSoldier: Ethical Challenges for High-Tech Troops,” presented at the annual Euro-ISME (International Society for Military Ethics, European division) conference in Vienna, Austria, May 26, 2019.


    • “From Targeting to Bioenhancement: High-Tech Issues in Military Ethics,” plenary presentation, annual McCain Conference on Ethics, United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, March 29, 2019.


    • “Artificial Ethics? The Use of A.I. and Autonomous Weapons by the Military,” Evelyn Lincoln Institute for Ethics and Society 10th-anniversary lecture, Mercyhurst University, Erie, Pennsylvania, October 15, 2018.


    • “Neuroethics and the Military: Retaining Ethical Restraint,” presented at the annual Euro-ISME (International Society for Military Ethics, European division) conference in Toledo, Spain, May 15, 2018.


    • “Code of the Robot: Military Virtues and Artificial Intelligence,” presented at the annual Euro-ISME (International Society for Military Ethics, European division) conference in Toledo, Spain, May 14, 2018.