The modern soldier is faced with a complex moral and psychological landscape. As Nancy Sherman puts it in The Untold War: Inside the Hearts and Minds of our Soldiers, ‘soldiers go to war to fight external enemies… but most fight inner wars as well.’ The modern soldier is no longer simply a warrior: he (or she) is at once a peacekeeper, diplomat, leader, sibling and friend. In the face of such challenges, some responsible for the teaching of soldiers have endeavoured to incorporate a character-based training programme, designed to develop virtues that will assist soldiers in fulfilling the multiple roles required of them. However, these training programmes are stymied by the dearth of virtue-based discussion within the most influential guide to the moral conduct of soldiers: just war theory (JWT). JWT remains a primarily deontic system in which rights, duties and law are generally perceived as the most important considerations. Aretaic ethics has a great deal to offer both JWT and military education programmes.


Thomas Aquinas, just war theory, virtue ethics, moral fragmentation, ethics education, Michael Walzer

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