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Military virtue and the British soldier in the contemporary operating environment

Steele, Alan 2017. Military virtue and the British soldier in the contemporary operating environment. MPhil Thesis, Cardiff University.
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In this dissertation I argue that Thomas Aquinas’s understanding of human nature, of human flourishing and of virtue can fill the gap, identified by Elizabeth Anscombe in 1958, between Aristotle’s account of the virtuous life and contemporary sceptical moral philosophy, which is variously described as subjectivism (Lewis 1967), consequentialism (Anscombe 1958), emotivism (MacIntyre 1985), and sophistry (Pieper 1992). Furthermore, I argue that a Thomist account of the practicably lived virtuous life is both relevant and applicable to officers and soldiers serving in the British Army of today, because it offers a complete account of the human moral life, as opposed to the consequentialist, emotivist and deontological approaches to ethical judgement and reasoning currently prevalent in Western societies, which inform the worldview of both officers and soldiers. These approaches, however, offer only partial accounts of ethics based on impoverished understandings of human nature and, thus, inevitably have a detrimental effect on both the articulation of British military doctrine and on the actual moral conduct of officers and soldiers. I further argue, therefore, that the British Army needs to consciously return to the traditional Western approach to moral education based on the idea of the deliberate formation of virtuous character, which is very different from contemporary Western educational approaches, but which will better prepare British Army officers and soldiers for “the violent school of war”, as Thucydides calls it.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
J Political Science > JX International law
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
U Military Science > U Military Science (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Military Ethics, Virtue, Aquinas, Human Nature, Human Flourishing, Aristotle, Moral Education, Elizabeth Anscombe, Alasdair MacIntyre, C.S. Lewis, Josef Pieper, Roger Scruton, Just War, Prudence, Justice, Courage, Temperance, Cardinal Virtues, Seven Deadly Sins, Profession of Arms, Lord Moran, Honour, British Army, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Future Character of Conflict, Contemporary Operating Environment, Sir Richard Livingstone, Herbert Butterfield, War, Stephen Deakin, Plato, Summa Theologica, De Anima,
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 20 December 2018
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2021 15:51

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