39 SR1 Appl Ethics

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    Supplementary Reading #1

    In this class we will look at how we apply ethics in oureveryday life. We will examine values, because they have animpact on ethical behavior; discuss our responsibility to providean ethical environment; and talk about our responsibilities toour subordinates, peers and superiors.

    Definition: Ethics

    Ethics are principles or standards that guide professionals to dothemoral or right thing--what ought to be done.

    Misconceptions About Ethics

    If an action is legal isnt it ethical? Something we need to

    understand is that legal and ethical behaviors are different.Yes, an action may be legal but unethical.

    For example, the development of a software system to improve debtcollecting powers of a loan shark may be legal, but is it ethicalto help someone who profits from the misery of others? Being aprofessional is more than simply acting to the letter of the law.

    Isn't military ethics about torturing prisoners of war for

    information and other wartime situations? No, most problems in

    military ethics are straight forward problems in plain, everydayethics. Most dilemmas have little to do with the "adventure" ofseizing hills and performing other "Rambo-like" feats. Mostproblems in the real world of military ethics deal with tellingthe truth, filling out reports honestly or condemning sexualharassment.

    Ethics are fine and good in the classroom but they don't work inthe real world. For any of you who believe this statement, let's

    simplify what the term means. Ethics means that honorable menand women do not lie, steal or cheat; rather they keep promises,do their reasonable best to carry out their responsibilities, tryto treat others as they would like to be treated; and theyattempt to set right their mistakes. You probably strive forthese goals everyday, so ethics isn't some weird study whichbelongs in university classrooms.

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    Finally, ethics are so complicated; there don't seem to be any

    "right" answers; We shouldn't waste our time. For sure, there

    are many gray areas and often decisions are difficult. However,in a very practical sense we know that unethical behavior, nottechnical/tactical incompetence, is what ruins careers. Since we

    make decisions every day that have ethical implications it isimportant to have an opportunity to think about these things.


    Definition: Values

    Values are principles, standards or qualities consideredworthwhile or desirable. Values may lead to ethical or unethicalbehavior; they help define character. Examples: integrity,loyalty, courage, respect, faithfulness, freedom, self-reliance.

    Family Values

    Our values, a foundation for behavior, come from our family,institutions and peers. What are some value statements we mightlearn from our family?

    It is not enough that I succeed; others must fail.Forgive your enemies but never forget their names.For the most part, people are good.Nice guys finish last.Forgiveness is important.It is possible to get all As and flunk life.

    Words such as honor, duty and courage are either supported ordismissed, depending on how those words are defined and acted outwithin the family.

    Peer Values

    A second source of values is friends. Peer pressure is notlimited to children on a playground. Peer values remain alifelong blessing and curse for those who seek to adhere toethical principles

    Peer pressure can cut both ways. Peers can hold a soldier tothe highest standards or lure that soldier into the gutter.Peers can coax one to honesty or derail one to dishonesty.

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    Institutional Values

    A third source of values is institutional. We claim theethical standards of an institution and make them our own, or atleast use them as a guideline. Some of the institutions whichinfluence us are school, church, social organizations, the Army,

    or a political party.

    The institutional values we are interested in are the Armyvalues. The Center for Army Leadership has revised leadershipdoctrine and have clarified the terms we use to express theArmy's enduring values for the 21st Century. The four Cs:commitment, courage, candor and competence remain usefulprinciples, but the new values are more precise.

    Service before self signifies the proper ordering of

    priorities. The welfare of the nation and the organization comebefore the individual.

    If we discarded this value how could we expect people to bewilling to sacrifice life, as we do in the military? How couldwe ask soldiers to work in dangerous situations?

    The combat scenario isn't really a problem; soldiers readilysacrifice self interest in combat. Where we see difficulty iswith the peacetime mission.

    As soldiers, we are expected to put the welfare of the nationand the Army before ourselves, and this requirement can trulywear on us. But, there are good reason for this requirement.

    Consider what would happen if soldiers could say:

    "Nope, I don't want to go to Korea, I have a family and I don'twant to leave them.

    "Sorry, I'm not moving until my son graduates from high school."

    I don't care what you say, I don't do PT at 5 am and I don'twork after 5 pm.

    Private, I'd really like to help you out with your problem, butI just don't have time.

    Obviously, if we place self interest first, the Army would nolonger be able to defend the nation.

    It's important to remember that while the focus is onservice to the nation, the idea also requires that soldiers

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    properly take care of family and self. The Army does not andcannot expect you to sacrifice everything for service.

    Courage is the military virtue that enables us to conquer

    fear, danger, or adversity, no matter what the context happens tobe (physical or moral).

    Courage also includes the notion of taking responsibility fordecisions and actions. Courage involves the ability to look atourselves, to confront new ideas, and to change.

    The military offers awards for courage in combat, inlifesaving, and for taking dangerous physical risks above andbeyond the call of duty. These we call heroes and that they are.

    Moral courage isn't as clearly rewarded.

    What two factors often cause us problems when we want to exercisemoral courage, and how can we compare physical and moral courage?

    1. The leader is required to stand against his or her peers.

    2. The leader is required to risk career or advancement.

    The soldier who jumps on a grenade to save a buddy willreceive a medal for that action, or the next-of-kin will receiveit.

    The soldier who jumps on a moral grenade to save a buddy frombehaviors that can destroy the person or the career may bethanked or criticized. That person may be called a hero but thenagain he may be called holier-than-thou, a squealer, or uptight.

    We can reward moral courage in the Army by standing bysoldiers who are determined to act ethically at the threat ofrejection by peers. The purpose of honor is not to play a gameof "gotcha with people. Ethical leadership that loses sight ofcompassion or common sense ceases to be either ethical orleadership.

    Leaders should speak the truth, cultivate what is honest, butnot lose sight of the people he leads. The slogan "Take care ofyour people?" is as old as the nation and we need to think aboutwhat it truly means.

    Leaders do not take care of their people either by coveringfor them or by hanging them out to dry. It is in the gray areabetween these two extremes that ethical leaders may exhibit moralcourage.

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    Respect is the regard and recognition of the absolute dignity

    that every human being possesses.

    Respect also indicates compassion and consideration of others.We must be sensitive to, and consider the feelings and needs ofothers. We must also be aware of the effect of our own behavior

    on them. Respect also involves the notion of fairness.

    Loyalty, when correctly understood (in order, from the

    Constitution, to the U.S. Army, to the unit, to family/friendsand finally to self), establishes the correct ordering of ourcommitments. We are faithful. We support lawful orders. Wedon't undermine decisions.

    Example: If I disagree with a course of action I should speakout. But once the final decision is made, I should support thatdecision. In other words, I should be loyal.

    Integrityis "soundness of moral principle; the character of

    uncorrupted virtue, especially in relation to truth and fairdealing, uprightness, honesty, and sincerity.

    Integrity is that quality which keeps us on the right coursewhen an action is unethical, but it seems "everyone is doing it.

    First of all, not everyone is doing it." Not every drillinstructor at Aberdeen was involved in sexual misconduct. Notevery general officer lies to Congress. Unethical behavior isunethical behavior, whether or not it is done by one person or by


    Look at it this way. Do you really want to tell the JAG officerwho is defending you at your court martial that the reason youstole 14 hockey sticks from the PX is because every single personin your unit was doing the same thing? You can see howridiculous this line of reasoning is.

    Duty concerns purpos