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Moral Autonomy in Australian Legislation and Military Doctrine

Ethics & Global Politics, Vol. 6, No. 3, 2013, pp. 135-154

20 Pages Posted: 24 Dec 2013  

Richard Adams

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Australian Defence Force Academy

Date Written: September 16, 2013

Abstract

Australian legislation and military doctrine stipulate that soldiers ‘subjugate their will’ to government, and fight in any war the government declares. Neither legislation nor doctrine enables the conscience of soldiers. Together, provisions of legislation and doctrine seem to take soldiers for granted. And, rather than strengthening the military instrument, the convention of legislation and doctrine seems to weaken the democratic foundations upon which the military may be shaped as a force for justice. Denied liberty of their conscience, soldiers are denied the foundational right of democratic citizenship and construed as utensils of the State. This article critiques the idea of moral agency in Australian legislation and military doctrine and is concerned with the obligation of the State to safeguard the moral integrity of individual soldiers, so soldiers might serve with a fully formed moral assurance to advance justice in the world. Beyond its explicit focus on the convention of Australian thought, this article raises questions of far-reaching relevance. The provisos of Australian legislation and doctrine are an analogue of western thinking. Thus, this discussion challenges many assumptions concerning military duty and effectiveness. Discussion will additionally provoke some reassessment of the expectations democratic societies hold of their soldiers.

Keywords: conscience, democracy, Kampala Review Conference, military service, Rawls, soldiers’ moral responsibility, Stoicism

Suggested Citation

Adams, Richard, Moral Autonomy in Australian Legislation and Military Doctrine (September 16, 2013). Ethics & Global Politics, Vol. 6, No. 3, 2013, pp. 135-154. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2371423

Richard Adams (Contact Author)

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Australian Defence Force Academy ( email )

Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

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