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Essays in Philosophy

Volume 18, Issue 2, July 2017

War and Moral Psychology

Nolen Gertz
Pages 264-280

Military Professionalism and PTSD
On the Need for “Soldier-Artists”

In part one of this paper I discuss how issues of combatant misconduct and illegality have led military academies to become more focused on professionalism rather than on the tensions between military ethics and military training. In order to interrogate the relationships between training and ethics, between becoming a military professional and being a military professional, between military professionals and society, I turn to the work of Martin Cook, Anthony Hartle, and J. Glenn Gray. In part two I focus on Cook’s analysis of the conflict between the self-understanding and the expected behavior of military professionals. In part three I focus on Hartle’s analysis of how the experience of alienation by military professionals can help to create the culture of military professionals. In part four I introduce a new theory of professionalism based on the existential and phenomenological philosophy of J. Glenn Gray, which can help us to better understand the philosophical and psychological stakes of what it means to become a military professional. I conclude in part five by suggesting that the most pressing issue in the military is not a lack of professionalism, but a lack of trust.

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