Many contributors to military ethics from diverse locations and philosophical perspectives maintain that virtues are central to martial theory and practice. Yet several contemporary philosophers and psychologists have recently challenged the empirical adequacy of this perspective. Their challenge is known as the situationist critique, a version of which asserts that: situational features rather than character traits such as virtues cause and explain human behavior, and ethical theories and development programs are empirically inadequate to the extent that they incorporate virtues. In (...) this paper, I assess the merit of this critique and consider some implications of my assessment for military practitioners and theorists. (shrink)
In her influential essay ‘Virtues and Vices,’ Philippa Foot argues that virtues are essentially corrective, moderating between two vicious extremes. She also contends that Aquinas champions this view, too. In contrast, I argue that Foot misreads Aquinas; that Aquinas's actual theory of virtue is incompatible with the corrective theory Foot defends; and that those who endorse Aquinas's Augustinian theology should side with his perfective theory of virtue rather than Foot's corrective one.