The Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften: EventsFriday, 09 October 2015 - Saturday, 10 October 2015
Conference room of the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften
Institute for Theology and Peace (Hamburg) in cooperation with the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften
Bernhard Koch (Hamburg)
»The meaning of chivalry and other military virtues for a lasting peace post bellum«
Dr. Bernhard Koch is Co-director of the Institute for Theology and Peace (Hamburg)
About two years ago, when the Federal Secretary of Defense in Germany announced that the German Armed Forces had plans to acquire armed drones, he was aware of the fact that the announcement itself was likely to provoke a discussion. The ethical permission to use these instruments, which had been used by the U.S. in ways widely rejected in Europe, surely was going to be the topic of a heated debate. Therefore, the Secretary himself requested an »ethical discussion« which culminated in a special session of the Defense commission of the German Bundestag in 2014. Whereas this debate was more about legal and technical aspects than about ethics, even a discussion on legal and technical aspects may include ethical implications and could therefore be seen as a starting point.
We can roughly distinguish between a group in favor of the acquisition of armed drones and a group against it. One of the most-quoted »ethical« arguments against fighting wars with armed drones is that it cannot be considered chivalrous – quoted by members of the pro-camp. Strangely enough, this argument has never really been brought forward by members of those who opposed the acquisition, but advocates of armed drones were quick to reject this point anyway. The argument itself however seems worth analyzing in more detail. It seems obvious that the majority of authors who reject the argument of chivalry is not really aware of the content of the idea. And many of those who are in favor of it might not be either.
It is high time to advance deeper into the ideas and the underlying assumptions of chivalry and knightliness. But it is probably not enough to focus on chivalry only and it might be better to explore other traditional military virtues – like bravery or clemency – as well. A project like this might help to lift the awareness of forgotten thoughts and elements of a tradition which is buried under our technical way of ethical reasoning, and we will ask about the importance of military virtues for a lasting peace in the aftermath of an armed conflict.
A two-day-workshop sponsored by the Institute of Theology and Peace can make a proper start. The institute is well-known for its dealings with current ethical issues on armed conflict and peace building by drawing attention to the thinking of the Christian tradition in these regards. The aim of the conference is not to justify a concept of chivalry, but to achieve a better understanding of the notion and for a possibly missing perspective in the current discussion on the use of military force.
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