6. Virtues

David Fisher

in Morality and War

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199599240
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725692 | DOI:
6. Virtues

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The just‐war tradition furnishes a rule book for war, but rules are not enough to ensure just behaviour. As Aristotle perceived, virtues are also necessary. This chapter examines what virtue is and what virtues are necessary for our moral life in general and, in particular, to ensure our soldiers behave justly, including justice, courage, self‐control, and practical wisdom. The uses and abuses of the virtues are examined from the exploits of the Scottish Rifles at Neuve Chapelle in 1915; German reserve policemen in 1942 Poland; and British soldiers ill‐treating civilians in Basra in 2003/4. We need to find a better way to teach morality to the military at all levels, so that ethical conduct becomes deeply engrained as habits of thought and action. But we also need our politicians and their advisers to be schooled in virtue, including the highest form of practical wisdom, which, as Aquinas notes, is statesmanship.

Keywords: Aquinas; Aristotle; courage; justice; practical wisdom; self‐control; statesmanship; teaching morality; virtue

Chapter.  11306 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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