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Free «Following Military Orders That May Be Unethical» Essay Sample

All professions have their ethical values. Ethics play important roles in our daily professional life. They are mainly there to improve the standards, enhance integrity and safeguard honor of both individuals and organizations. As a result, it is important when all individuals strive to embrace ethics when going through their daily professional requirements. Nonetheless, sometimes, professionals find themselves in ethical dilemma when they are unable to follow specific ethics because situations conflict. In such cases, the professional needs to incorporate other professional experiences and theories to their practice. As Bok (1982) argues, failure to make correct decisions when choosing ethics may lead to professional disaster. Therefore, it is important for professionals to study ethics, ethical dilemmas and apply different ethical theories in solving them. This paper shall discuss on the ethical issue of following military orders that may be unethical, the problems it may pose and use appropriate theory to solve the problem.



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As a soldier, one has the duty of respecting his/her superior when on duty or not. It is the duty of a military person whether in air force, navy or a grounds person. Obedience is a basic disciplinary rule. A military profession has the duty of respecting his superior master like a politician or a president or his superiors (Holmes & Perron, 2007). Therefore, when there is an order a military person has the one and only obligation of respecting and executing the order from superiors without questioning or challenging it. It is a demand of military ethics. Some soldiers have lost their lives while trying to respect this order. Nonetheless, just like other professions, the military also has ethical dilemmas because there are some instances when the orders to completely conflict with basic human ethics and institutional ethics (Powers, 2010). For instance, one American captain in Iraq was out to capture Osama. They were going through a small village. His commander was in Baghdad and ordered them over the radio to shoot and kill any hostile communities in case they opened fire on them.

Moreover, they were to capture and extract information from the villagers about Osama Bin Laden movements. For villagers who will not cooperate, he was to use force to get the information. Nonetheless, captain was not happy about the orders because he found out armed villagers were but mostly young boys who were living in fear of Taliban and other militia groups. They would shoot at anything in order to be safe. However, he had to execute his orders. When in the village, there was a combat between the villagers and his troops. Captain was able to suppress the attack and squeeze information from the villagers that led to cornering and killing of Osama. Ordering a captain to shoot to kill and to use force like torture to get information is unethical. At least America had a chance to get Osama alive and send him to prison. They should have captured him and sentenced him to life imprisonment. The military would also have spared the young boys. Nevertheless, due to captain’s duty of protecting his troop, he had to shoot to kill as commanded. It is unethical to fire at youth and using force to extract information from them. Using force to extract information from the youth is undermining their universal rights. Everybody has a right to give information willingly.

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However, deontology theory of ethics solves the situation because it states that it is the duty and obligation of any professional to adhere to their obligations when dealing with ethical dilemma (Holmes & Perron, 2007). It was the duty of the captain to respect his superiors no matter what. Nonetheless, captain also had a duty of protecting the world through getting such useful information by any means even if it meant overlooking the villagers’ rights. Moreover, the captain could not compromise the mission on the basis of honoring his ego. This important mission would lead to arrest and capture of world terrorist. Therefore, basing on ethics, captain’s ego should not have compromised his mission or duty because he felt it was wrong to overlook the villager rights. The utilitarian theory also solves this ethical dilemma. The theory states that for a decision to be ethical, it must have maximal benefits to the subjects involved. Therefore, when a soldier overlooks the right of few villagers in an attempt to capture world terrorist, it is more ethical. This means that the captain will only subject a few to pain in an attempt to make an entire globe happy. This is morally accepted.

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In contrast to egoism or emotivism perspective, one does not need to come up ethics because it is in their interests that something is right or wrong (Holmes, & Perron, 2007). For instance, if it was egoism, the captain knew that it was wrong to infringe other people’s rights through subjecting them to pain in exchange for information about a world terrorist. He was not happy about shooting the young boys because he felt it was wrong. When guided by egoism perspective, he would have spared them and jeopardized the operation. In other words, he would have disobeyed the orders to shoot to kill and fell back causing a military disaster in the heart of Iraq.

To sum up, ethical issues are present and are practiced in every profession. They are common and frequent, thus; nobody can avoid them. Poor decisions may lead to professional disasters, loss of jobs and sometimes they cause legal conflicts. Therefore, as a professional, one needs to understand and practice norms that conform to obligations and duties. These stands should not only benefit n individual, but also benefit the society maximally.


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