Calibrating the moral compass: an Aristotelian virtue ethics approach to British soldiers moral agency during complex expeditionary operations

Redgwell, Darren (2022) Calibrating the moral compass: an Aristotelian virtue ethics approach to British soldiers moral agency during complex expeditionary operations. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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As the British Army departs from conventional warfare, it must prepare for the complex challenges of the future operational environment that will exist between peace and war. As a battle-hardened and experienced Infantry moves towards a more diverse and complex operational environment, the British Army's professional and moral credibility depends on soldiers' ability to think and act with reference to right and wrong at the ambiguous and highly scrutinised intersection of tactical and strategic direction.

This insider research employs a phenomenological research approach to examine British Infantry soldiers’ self perceptions about lethal and crucial non-lethal decisions within the framework of the Afghanistan conflict. The most significant empirical finding is that Infantry soldiers were divided into experienced soldiers who relied on their own judgement to make lethal decisions in consideration of both short- and long-term risks to themselves, their comrades, and local people (who may or may not have been enemy combatants) and inexperienced soldiers who relied on a rules-based approach lacking the flexibility provided by experience. Secondly, during the decision-making process, experience was distilled through the application of the virtues of compassion and practical wisdom. Respect for others and selfless commitment were visible in the actions of the soldiers in this study, which suggests that two of the British Army's key values were embodied in the concept of moral agency for the soldiers in this study.

This study contends that Aristotelian virtue ethics provides resources for cultivating practical wisdom and compassion that can endure not just the situational pressures and constraints of complicated expeditionary operations, but also the daily ethical dilemmas inherent in the narrative unity of life.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: practical wisdom, compassion, respect for others, camaraderie, experience
Subjects: L900 Others in Social studies
N200 Management studies
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2022 08:43
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2022 08:45

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