How Ethical Theory Can Improve Practice: Lessons from Abu Ghraib
Ethical Theory and Practice, Vol. 12, No. 5, 555-568.
Nancy E. Snow
Abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq confront us with the question of
how seemingly ordinary soldiers could have perpetrated harms against
prisoners. In this essay I argue that a Stoic approach to the virtues
can provide a bulwark against the social and personal forces that can
lead to abusive behavior. In part one, I discuss Abu Ghraib. In two, I
examine social psychological explanations of how ordinary, apparently
decent people are able to commit atrocities. In three, I address a
series of questions: why should we turn to ethics for help with these
problems, and why, in particular, to Stoicism instead of other ethical
theories, such as utilitarianism or Kantianism? Given the power of
situations in influencing behavior, is a turn to character ethics a
viable response to problems such as those at Abu Ghraib? I argue in
part four that character formation drawing on Stoic values can provide
soldiers with the inner resilience to resist the situational factors
that press them to unwarranted aggression.
Read the article.
(Something interesting I found)Posted: Friday, January 15, 2010
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