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Following Military Orders That May Be Unethical - Research Paper Example

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Following Military Orders That May Be Unethical: and number: Date submitted: The military, given the sensitivity of their role in society, maintain remarkable standards of obedience. It is these standards that make these forces effective and reliable (Mason, 2011)…
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Following Military Orders That May Be Unethical
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Following Military Orders That May Be Unethical

Download file to see previous pages... There are many legal and social standards through which an action is ethical, but these standards do not solve the contradiction that comes with the relativity in situations, individuals and societies. While soldiers pledge to obey their superior’s orders they do so in view of the uniform code of military justice and the constitution. As such, soldiers “should not” obey illegal commands. Establishing the legality or illegality of a command has over the years has raised controversial ethical issues. Under the UCMJ, articles 90 to 92 hold that willful or un-willful disobedience of lawful orders from a senior officer is a criminal offence (Mason, 2011). During war, article 90 further stipulates that such an action is punishable by death (Mason, 2011). Unlawful orders are those that are repugnant to the Constitution seeing as the constitution is the supreme law of the land. The constitution derives form societal ethics and religious doctrines. However, the constitution does not take into account all societal ethics and religious standings of a people (Mason, 2011). There are many examples of illegal or potentially unethical orders issued every day in the army and other military organizations. This paper examines two accounts of death orders. The first example is that of William Calley 1968 during the Vietnam War (Thomas, 2012). The then Second Lieutenant claimed to have received orders from his superior to open fire and subsequently kill civilians. He then passed these orders to his juniors who, like him opened fire on innocent, unarmed civilians in the absence of duress (enemy fire) (Thomas, 2012). In 1971, William received a life sentence with the charge of premeditated murder. The aftermath of the sentence aside, Lieutenant William was guilty of murder while following the orders of a superior (Thomas, 2012). With the rise of terrorism threats cases of inhumane, unconstitutional mistreatment of prisoners is on the rise. A second example is an incident that occurred in the year 2004 during America’s invasion of Iraq. The 343rd Quartermaster Company on 13th October refused to go on a mission as ordered by their superiors (Mason, 2011). The unit cited unsafe and insufficient equipment as their reason to disobey orders claiming that the order was a suicide mission. The consequences of their actions have negative far reaching effects on their careers. These consequences include detainment, dishonorable discharge and forfeit of pay (Mason, 2011). In 1986, the U.S army listed some values an organization should have considered to form the foundation on which ethics stems from. These values included integrity, loyalty, selflessness and duty (Mason, 2011). For the individual, the army listed courage, commitment, candor and competence. This proclamation spells out two things. The first is that the superior officer (representative of the organization) should give due consideration to ethical matters while giving orders. Secondly, the officer receiving the orders should follow them while maintaining an ethical approach. Military laws and courts hold military persons accountable if their actions are unlawful regardless of the situation (whether they were following orders from a superior or not) (Mason, 2011). There are various theories that one can apply to examine the above situations. These theories include utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics relativism, emotivism and ethical egoism. John Stuart Mill advanced Consequentialism, a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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