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Peter Olsthoorn
Netherlands Defence Academy
  1. Military Ethics and Virtues: An Interdisciplinary Approach for the 21st Century.Peter Olsthoorn - 2010 - Routledge.
    This book examines the role of military virtues in today's armed forces. -/- Although long-established military virtues, such as honor, courage and loyalty, are what most armed forces today still use as guiding principles in an effort to enhance the moral behavior of soldiers, much depends on whether the military virtues adhered to by these militaries suit a particular mission or military operation. Clearly, the beneficiaries of these military virtues are the soldiers themselves, fellow-soldiers, and military organizations, yet there is (...)
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  2.  71
    Courage in the Military: Physical and Moral.Peter Olsthoorn - 2007 - Journal of Military Ethics 6 (4):270-279.
    The first section of this article argues that the best-known definition of physical courage, stemming from Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, is less than fit for today's military. Having done so, a short outline is given of more scientific approaches to physical courage, drawing mainly on insights offered by psychologists, and of the problems that are inherent to these approaches. Subsequently, the article turns to a topic that is often paid lip service to in the military, yet remains somewhat hard to pin (...)
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  3. Situations and Dispositions: How to Rescue the Military Virtues From Social Psychology.Peter Olsthoorn - 2017 - Journal of Military Ethics 16 (1-2):78-93.
    In recent years, it has been argued more than once that situations determine our conduct to a much greater extent than our character does. This argument rests on the findings of social psychologists such as Stanley Milgram, who have popularized the idea that we can all be brought to harm innocent others. An increasing number of philosophers and ethicists make use of such findings, and some of them have argued that this so-called situationist challenge fatally undermines virtue ethics. As virtue (...)
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  4. Dual Loyalties in Military Medical Care – Between Ethics and Effectiveness.Peter Olsthoorn, Myriame Bollen & Robert Beeres - 2013 - In Herman Amersfoort, Rene Moelker, Joseph Soeters & Desiree Verweij (eds.), Moral Responsibility & Military Effectiveness. Asser.
    Military doctors and nurses, working neither as pure soldiers nor as merely doctors or nurses, may face a ‘role conflict between the clinical professional duties to a patient and obligations, express or implied, real or perceived, to the interests of a third party such as an employer, an insurer, the state, or in this context, military command’. This conflict is commonly called dual loyalty. This chapter gives an overview of the military and the medical ethic and of the resulting dual (...)
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  5.  44
    Honor as a Motive for Making Sacrifices.Peter Olsthoorn - 2005 - Journal of Military Ethics 4 (3):183-197.
    This article deals with the notion of honor and its relation to the willingness to make sacrifices. There is a widely shared feeling, especially in Western countries, that the willingness to make sacrifices for the greater good has been on a reverse trend for quite a while both on the individual and the societal levels, and that this is increasingly problematic to the military. First of all, an outline of what honor is will be given. After that, the Roman honor-ethic, (...)
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  6. Honor in Political and Moral Philosophy.Peter Olsthoorn - 2015 - State University of New York Press.
    In this history of the development of ideas of honor in Western philosophy, Peter Olsthoorn examines what honor is, how its meaning has changed, and whether it can still be of use. Political and moral philosophers from Cicero to John Stuart Mill thought that a sense of honor and concern for our reputation could help us to determine the proper thing to do, and just as important, provide us with the much-needed motive to do it. Today, outside of the military (...)
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  7.  26
    A Critique of Integrity: Has a Commander a Moral Obligation to Uphold His Own Principles?Peter Olsthoorn - 2009 - Journal of Military Ethics 8 (2):90-104.
    Integrity is generally considered to be an important military virtue. The first part of this article tries to make sense of integrity’s many, often contradicting, meanings. Both in the military and elsewhere, its most common understanding seems to be that integrity requires us to live according to one’s personal principal values and principles we have a moral obligation to do so, and it is a prerequisite to be able to ‘look ourselves in the mirror.’ This notion of integrity as upholding (...)
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  8. Intentions and Consequences in Military Ethics.Peter Olsthoorn - 2011 - Journal of Military Ethics 10 (2):81-93.
    Utilitarianism is the strand of moral philosophy that holds that judgment of whether an act is morally right or wrong, hence whether it ought to be done or not, is primarily based upon the foreseen consequences of the act in question. It has a bad reputation in military ethics because it would supposedly make military expedience override all other concerns. Given that the utilitarian credo of the greatest happiness for the greatest number is in fact agent-neutral, meaning that the consequences (...)
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  9.  59
    The Ethics Curriculum at the Netherlands Defence Academy, and Some Problems with its Theoretical Underpinnings.Peter Olsthoorn - 2008 - In Paul Robinson, Nigel de Lee & Don Carrick (eds.), Ethics Education in the Military. Ashgate. pp. 119-130.
  10.  17
    Virtue Ethics and Military Ethics.René Moelker & Peter Olsthoorn - 2007 - Journal of Military Ethics 6 (4):257-258.
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  11.  81
    Bernard Mandeville on Honor, Hypocrisy, and War.Peter Olsthoorn - 2019 - Heythrop Journal 60 (2):205-218.
    Authors from Cicero to Smith held honor to be indispensable to make people see and do what is right. As they considered honor to be a social motive, they did not think this dependence on honor was a problem. Today, we tend to see honor as a self‐regarding motive, but do not see this as problematic because we stopped seeing it as a necessary incentive. Bernard Mandeville, however, agreed with the older authors that honor is indispensable, but agreed with us (...)
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  12. Civilian Care in War: Lessons From Afghanistan.Peter Olsthoorn & Myriame Bollen - 2013 - In Michael Gross & Don Carrick (eds.), Military Medical Ethics forthe 21st Century. Ashgate. pp. 59-70.
    Military doctors and nurses, employees with a compound professional identity as they are neither purely soldiers nor simply doctors or nurses, face a role conflict between the clinical professional duties to a patient and obligations, express or implied, real or perceived, to the interests of a third party such as an employer, an insurer, the state, or in this context, military command (London et al. 2006). In the context of military medical ethics this is commonly called dual loyalty (or, less (...)
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  13. Dual Loyalty in Military Medical Ethics: A Moral Dilemma or a Test of Integrity?Peter Olsthoorn - 2019 - Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps 165 (4):282-283.
    When militaries mention loyalty as a value they mean loyalty to colleagues and the organisation. Loyalty to principle, the type of loyalty that has a wider scope, plays hardly a role in the ethics of most armed forces. Where military codes, oaths and values are about the organisation and colleagues, medical ethics is about providing patient care impartially. Being subject to two diverging professional ethics can leave military medical personnel torn between the wish to act loyally towards colleagues, and the (...)
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  14.  9
    Ethics for Drone Operators: Rules Versus Virtues.Peter Olsthoorn - 2021 - In Christian Enemark (ed.), Ethics of Drone Strikes: Restraining Remote-Control Killing. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
    Until recently most militaries tended to see moral issues through the lens of rules and regulations. Today, however, many armed forces consider teaching virtues to be an important complement to imposing rules and codes from above. A closer look reveals that it is mainly established military virtues such as honour, courage and loyalty that dominate both the lists of virtues and values of most militaries and the growing body of literature on military virtues. Although there is evidently still a role (...)
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  15.  56
    Ethiek Voor Cyberkrijg En Cyberkrijgers.Peter Olsthoorn - 2019 - Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte 111 (1):95-109.
    Although some claim that the term cyber war is merely metaphorical, there are good reasons to see cyber war as a form of warfare ‐ even if it is not war as we have hitherto known it. This poses the question whether the principles of the Just War Tradition, which claims to offer an alternative for pacifism and realism, apply to this specific kind of war too. This article argues that the jus in bello principles of discrimination and proportionality are (...)
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  16. Honor: A Phenomenology. [REVIEW]Peter Olsthoorn - 2015 - Contemporary Political Theory 14 (1):e31-e33.
  17. Honor and the Military.Peter Olsthoorn - 2006 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 20 (1):159-172.
    This article deals with the notion of honor and its role in today’s military as an incentive in combat, but also as a check on the behavior on both the battlefield and in modern “operations other than war.” First, an outline will be given of what honor is and how it relates to traditional views on military courage. After that, the Roman honor-ethic, stating that honor is a necessary incentive for courageous behavior and that it is something worth dying for, (...)
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  18. Honour, Face and Reputation in Political Theory.Peter Olsthoorn - 2008 - European Journal of Political Theory 7 (4):472-491.
    Until fairly recently it was not uncommon for political theorists to hold the view that people cannot be expected to act in accordance with the public interest without some incentive. Authors such as Marcus Tullius Cicero, John Locke, David Hume and Adam Smith, for instance, held that people often act in accordance with the public interest, but more from a concern for their honour and reputation than from a concern for the greater good. Today, most authors take a more demanding (...)
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  19. Integrity, Moral Courage and Innere Führung.Peter Olsthoorn - 2016 - Ethics and Armed Forces 3 (1):32-36.
    The aim of this paper is to examine the usefulness of the somewhat related notions of integrity, moral courage, and Innere Führung (the leadership concept used by the German military) as a means of making military personnel behave ethically. Of these three notions, integrity is mentioned most often within military organizations, and the largest part of what follows is therefore devoted to a description of what integrity is, and what the drawbacks of this notion are for the military. This will (...)
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  20.  35
    Lethal Military Robots: Who is Responsible When Things Go Wrong?Peter Olsthoorn - 2018 - In Rocci Luppicini (ed.), The Changing Scope of Technoethics in Contemporary Society. Hershey, PA, USA: pp. 106-123.
    Although most unmanned systems that militaries use today are still unarmed and predominantly used for surveillance, it is especially the proliferation of armed military robots that raises some serious ethical questions. One of the most pressing concerns the moral responsibility in case a military robot uses violence in a way that would normally qualify as a war crime. In this chapter, the authors critically assess the chain of responsibility with respect to the deployment of both semi-autonomous and (learning) autonomous lethal (...)
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  21.  13
    Military Ethics and Leadership.Peter Olsthoorn - 2017 - Brill.
    Most books and articles still treat leadership and ethics as related though separate phenomena. This edited volume is an exception to that rule, and explicitly treats leadership and ethics as a single domain. Clearly, ethics is an aspect of leadership, and not a distinct approach that exists alongside other approaches to leadership. This holds especially true for the for the military, as it is one of the few organizations that can legitimately use violence. Military leaders have to deal with personnel (...)
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  22.  76
    Military Robots and the Question of Responsibility.Lamber Royakkers & Peter Olsthoorn - 2014 - International Journal of Technoethics 5 (1):01-14.
    Most unmanned systems used in operations today are unarmed and mainly used for reconnaissance and mine clearing, yet the increase of the number of armed military robots is undeniable. The use of these robots raises some serious ethical questions. For instance: who can be held morally responsible in reason when a military robot is involved in an act of violence that would normally be described as a war crime? In this article, we critically assess the attribution of responsibility with respect (...)
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  23.  15
    Military Virtues and Moral Relativism.Peter Olsthoorn - 2019 - In Michael Skerker, David Whetham & Don Carrick (eds.), Military Virtues. Howgate Publishing.
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  24. Risks and Robots – Some Ethical Issues.Peter Olsthoorn & Lambèr Royakkers - 2011 - Archive International Society for Military Ethics, 2011.
    While in many countries the use of unmanned systems is still in its infancy, other countries, most notably the US and Israel, are much ahead. Most of the systems in operation today are unarmed and are mainly used for reconnaissance and clearing improvised explosive devices. But over the last years the deployment of armed military robots is also on the increase, especially in the air. This might make unethical behavior less likely to happen, seeing that unmanned systems are immune to (...)
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  25. Risks, Robots, and the Honorableness of the Military Profession.Peter Olsthoorn - 2019 - In Bernhard Koch (ed.), Chivalrous Combatants? The Meaning of Military Virtue Past and Present. Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft. pp. 161 - 178.
    1. Introduction 2. What honor is 3. Honor in the military 4. The use of robots and the honorableness of the military profession 5. Conclusion.
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  26. The Ethics of Border Guarding: A First Exploration and a Research Agenda for the Future.Peter Olsthoorn - 2018 - Ethics and Education 13 (2):157-171.
    Although the notion of universal human rights allows for the idea that states (and supranational organizations such as the European Union) can, or even should, control and impose restrictions on migration, both notions clearly do not sit well together. The ensuing tension manifests itself in our ambivalent attitude towards migration, but also affects the border guards who have to implement national and supranational policies on migration. Little has been written on the ethics that has to guide these border guards in (...)
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  27.  69
    Utilitarianism and the Ethics of War, Written by William H. Shaw. [REVIEW]Peter Olsthoorn - 2019 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 16 (2):251-254.
    Utilitarianism has a fairly bad reputation in military ethics, mainly because it is thought to make military expedience override all other concerns. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a famous instance of such a skewed utilitarian calculation that “the rules of war and the rights they are designed to protect” should have stopped (Walzer 1992: 263-8). Most of its critics seem to think that utilitarianism is not bad per se, but prone to be misapplied in a self-serving way. (...)
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  28. Virtue Ethics in the Military.Peter Olsthoorn - 2014 - In Stan van Hooft (ed.), The Handbook of Virtue Ethics. Routledge. pp. 365-374.
    In addition to the traditional reliance on rules and codes in regulating the conduct of military personnel, most of today’s militaries put their money on character building in trying to make their soldiers virtuous. Especially in recent years it has time and again been argued that virtue ethics, with its emphasis on character building, provides a better basis for military ethics than deontological ethics or utilitarian ethics. Although virtue ethics comes in many varieties these days, in many texts on military (...)
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  29.  21
    Yvonne Chiu: Conspiring with the Enemy: The Ethic of Cooperation in Warfare. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2019. Pp. Xvi, 344.). [REVIEW]Peter Olsthoorn - 2020 - The Review of Politics 82 (4):658-660.
    Clausewitz made the intuitively appealing claim that wars tend to “absoluteness,” and that all limitations imposed by law and morality are in theory alien to it. Clausewitz of course knew that there are in practice many limitations to how wars are fought, but he saw them as contingent to what war is. Since then, however, historians such as John Lynn (Battle: A History of Combat and Culture [Westview Press, 2003]), John Keegan (A History of Warfare ([Random House,1993]) and Victor Davis (...)
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