Ethical Decision Making For Military Leaders

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Character: The Key to Ethical Decision-Making for Military Leaders General H. Norman Schwarzkopf stated, “The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.” Although Schwarzkopf makes a compelling argument, his premise is invalid due to its inflexible scope and absolute finality. In other words, not all decisions are metaphorically black and white. Based on differing perspectives, and most certainly for military leaders, there are often shades of grey. General Schwarzkopf’s statement suggests that regardless of the complexity of a problem, there is always a right and a wrong answer to every question. Simple terms of right and wrong are an over simplification of the complex process of ethical…show more content…
For example, utilitarian philosophy dictates that men make decisions based on what action will result in the most happiness for the most people. Utilitarianism is the foundation of modern democracy, which is one of the most valued concepts in American society. By virtue of their position of responsibility, military leaders are required to understand the value of democracy and support the concept as a pillar of the American value system. However, what happens when a majority of people, in an attempt to provide the most happiness for the most people, determines that a terrorist organization is the best form of leadership for a society, and they then put representatives from that organization into political offices by a majority vote? This is exactly what happened in Lebanon when citizens voted members of Hezbollah to the Lebanese cabinet in 2008. Did society make the correct decision, or was right and wrong more a matter of opinion in this case? The second source of dissent to Schwarzkopf’s statement comes from Judeo-christen philosophies. Judeo-christen philosophies subscribe to a premise that men and women are imperfect and often require inspired guidance from God in order to know the right thing to do. For example, Judeo-christen scriptures claim that Adam and Eve, thought to be the first man and woman on earth, received two commandments from God. First, God commanded Adam and Eve to multiply and replenish
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