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The Professional Military Ethic

The Professional Military Ethic published on

Authored by U.S. Army Command and General Staff College

Understanding the professional military ethic (PME) requires first understanding the conceptual foundations upon which it stands. This foundation includes objective morality, the sociology of professions, professional ethics in general, and the profession of arms. I argue that a genuinely normative professional ethic derives from objective morality through the context of a particular professional role. Any other approach fails to generate genuine normativity. This assertion conflicts with recent accounts of the PME that seek its source in various artifacts of our military culture and society. Moral obligation is a product of individual abilities and relationships. Professional roles generate a common set of abilities and relationships. Morality constrains the professional role, dictating what professionals must do, may do, and may not do for clients. Given similarities in our roles, the PME does not differ substantially across military services or even across nations. Understanding of the PME, however, varies greatly. Any profession’s understanding of its ethic is a function of how well that profession has discerned and formally articulated that ethic. Achieving our full professional potential requires that we articulate our ethic. Despite a number of formidable obstacles, we can articulate a functional account of our ethic that is sensitive to the unique demographic characteristics of our profession. I offer a conceptual account of the moral foundations of a professional ethic. I then offer an articulation of our professional ethic, organized around our specific professional roles, and provide commentary on the account to demonstrate its serviceability to the profession.

Publication Date:
Jul 19 2014
1500577901 / 9781500577902
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
8.5″ x 11″
Black and White
Related Categories:
History / Military / General


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