Ethical Decision-Making in the Military Decision-Making Process

5156 Words Nov 1st, 2012 21 Pages
Ethical Decision-Making in the Military Decision-Making Process

Contribution to the JSCOPE 2000 Conference “Moral Considerations in Military Decision Making”.

Dr. D. (Desiree) Verweij

Lieutenant Colonel G.A.A.M. (Gérard) Cloïn (drs.)

Major E.C. (Erhan) Tanercan MED (drs.)


Tel: +31 76 527 46 53 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +31 76 527 46 53 end_of_the_skype_highlighting


A great deal has changed in the Royal Netherlands Army (RNLA) in recent years. Not only has the task of the RNLA changed, but so has its composition. To begin with the first aspect: the task of the RNLA and that of the armed forces as a whole has been extended.
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Finally, section 7 answers the question of how ethical decision-making can be taught.

1.What are ethics?

Ethics are the systemic reflection of morals[i]. Morals may be described as the set of standards and values, of manners and customs in a certain group of people at a particular time. Most people act on the basis of a certain moral, in other words using particular standards and values. But what are standards and values, exactly? A standard is a rule, a guideline for behaviour. An example of a standard is politeness. Standards may be regarded as guides towards a certain objective, a certain value. A value is the objective of a standard. In the example given, ‘politeness’ is the standard and ‘respect for another as a person’ the objective. This example may be used to illustrate that a standard is empty without an underlying value, and thus has little purpose, because if there is no respect behind the expressed politeness for the person in question, the politeness is nothing more than a sham, and thus has no meaning whatsoever.

A value may be regarded as an ideal, as something to be pursued, something one tries to achieve. Values are things that people say are important; hence the assertion that something is valuable or has value. This is said, for example, of peace and

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