#Monday Musings: Pauline Shanks-Kaurin

"Monday Musings” are designed to get quick, insightful thoughts based around three questions from those interested in strategy, from the most experienced and lauded, to our newest thinkers/writers.

1. Who had the greatest impact on you intellectually (whether through writing, mentorship, etc.)?

Without a doubt, the 18th-century Scottish philosopher David Hume. I did my dissertation work on his account of oath taking and promises, and his idea of morality as related to sentiments and our ability to empathize (enter into the sentiments of others) has framed my work in military ethics and other areas.

2. What book (fiction, history, or academic) do you think best explains strategy?

This will seem really odd to your readers but Agatha Christie's character Miss Jane Marple (my favorite is Body in the Library) gets strategy.  She understands that we have to comprehend human nature with all of its foibles, that there are patterns and similarities across time, that we must look at the facts, and that people do lie even when they think they are not!  She also understands that intervention and action is sometimes justified, but exhibits a great deal of patience and lets events play out when indicated.

3. What do you want your legacy to be?

I hope that through my scholarship and teaching to help those who go to war and those who send others to war understand and empathetically appreciate the moral complexities of war. The more humane and morally responsible war can be, the more we can lessen (but never eliminate) the suffering of combatants and non-combatants alike. But I also think this is a collective responsibility.


Dr. Pauline Shanks Kaurin holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Temple University and is a specialist in military ethics, just war theory, social and political philosophy, and applied ethics. She is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Pacific Lutheran University and teaches courses in military ethics, warfare, business ethics, and history of philosophy. The views expressed in this article are the author's and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.


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