Should Soldiers Think before They Shoot?

Journal of Military Ethics 9 (3):195-218 (2010)
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Intuition has increasingly been considered as a legitimate foundation for decision-making, and the concept has started to find its way into military doctrines as a supplement to traditional decision-making procedures, primarily in time-constrained situations. Yet, absent inside the military realm is a critical and level-headed discussion of the ethical implications of intuitive behaviour, understood as an immediate and situational response with no recourse to thoughtful or deliberate activity. In this article the author turns to phenomenological philosophy, and in particular to the works of Hubert and Stuart Dreyfus, to elaborate on the ethical implications and consequences of intuitive behaviour. Dreyfus and Dreyfus understand moral behaviour as a skill, and as such they claim that it is possible to develop this capability through practice. They even claim that intuitive behaviour is the hallmark of the way experts respond to situations. The article seeks to investigate if the prerequisites for development of experience-based intuition are fulfilled inside the frames of military operations. The possible implications and consequences of utilizing such a capability are also emphasized. The article's empirical materials are qualitative and build mainly upon extracted information from interviews and informal conversations with Norwegian soldiers and officers serving in Afghanistan under ISAF's Regional Command North in 2007 and 2008



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