Moral Aspects of “Moral Injury”: Analyzing Conceptualizations on the Role of Morality in Military Trauma

Journal of Military Ethics 17 (1):36-53 (2018)
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Abstract

ABSTRACTIn clinical circles, the concept of “moral injury” has rapidly gained traction. Yet, from a moral philosophical point of view the concept is less clear than is suggested. That is, in current conceptualizations of moral injury, trauma’s moral dimension seems to be understood in a rather mechanistic and individualized manner. This article makes a start in developing an adequately founded conceptualization of the role of morality in deployment-related distress. It does so by reviewing and synthesizing insights from different disciplines into morality and trauma. This discussion will lead to three positions: values and norms are by definition characterized by conflict, moral conflict may entail important social dimensions, and moral conflict may lead to altered beliefs about previously held values. These insights provide important steps in further developing conceptions of the role of morality in deployment-related suffering.

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