Moral autonomy in Australian legislation and military doctrine

Ethics and Global Politics 6 (3):135-154 (2013)
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Abstract

"Australian legislation and military doctrine stipulate that soldiers ‘subjugate their will’ to" "government, and fight in any war the government declares. Neither legislation nor doctrine enables the conscience of soldiers. Together, provisions of legislation and doctrine seem to take soldiers for granted. And, rather than strengthening the military instrument, the convention of legislation and doctrine seems to weaken the democratic foundations upon which the military may be shaped as a force for justice. Denied liberty of their conscience, soldiers are denied the foundational right of democratic citizenship and construed as utensils of the State. This article critiques the idea of moral agency in Australian legislation and military doctrine and is concerned with the obligation of the State to safeguard the moral integrity of individual soldiers, so soldiers might serve with a fully formed moral assurance to advance justice in the world. Beyond its explicit focus on the convention of Australian thought, this article raises questions of far-reaching relevance. The provisos of Australian legislation and doctrine are an analogue of western thinking. Thus, this discussion challenges many assumptions concerning military duty and effectiveness. Discussion will additionally provoke some reassessment of the expectations democratic societies" "hold of their soldiers."

Author's Profile

Richard Adams
University of New South Wales

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