The Intersection of #Profession and Ethics: Redefining the Modern Military

When Dr. Pauline Shanks Kaurin, the Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Pacific Lutheran University, took to Twitter in preparation for her Philosophy 224 Military Ethics class we saw a little bit of magic. She asked the following:

  1. Is the military a profession?

  2. What does that mean to you?

  3. What are the ethical responsibilities of military members, if any?

Her tweet sparked a lively conversation that quickly filled The Bridge’s timeline. A cohort of tweeters—veterans, civilians, students and professors—joined the conversation. As we checked in throughout the day we saw the very thing so often lamented as missing in America—a cogent and congenial conversation about the ethics of the military profession that spanned the civilian-military divide.

In a way, Dr. Shanks Kaurin was asking a similar question to the one offered by Ray Kimball just last week when he posed the “#Profession in One Tweet” challenge. Can we define what it is we do as a profession?

As good professors so often do, her initial query of three simple questions spawned a series of follow-on questions. Does Samuel Huntington’s oft-cited definition of a military profession in The Soldier and the State still ring true in the 21st century? Does training and continuing education play a role in defining a profession? Is a universal code of ethics required?

To kick off the new year, The Strategy Bridge is opening our first #Series of 2015 with a call for posts. We’re challenging you to address one, two, or all three of Dr. Shanks Kaurin’s questions. Submit your contributions to us here and we’ll post them under #Profession beginning on Monday, 12 January.


Tyrell Mayfield is a U.S. Air Force Political Affairs Strategist and a member of the CJCS AFPAK Hands Program. Ty’s interests include strategy, languages, and the intersection of social media and conflict spaces. He serves as the Communications Director for The Strategy Bridge and is writing a book about Kabul. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the USAF, the DoD, or the U.S. Government.

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