Women in Combat Arms: An Unnecessary Ethical and Moral Mistake
Jackson, John J.
Reynolds, Terrence P.
WOMEN IN COMBAT ARMS: AN UNNECESSARY ETHICAL AND MORAL MISTAKE. ABSTRACT Women have made numerous positive strides towards equality in almost all aspects of American society over the past 100 years. During this time, the United States military has been in the forefront of many of the evolutionary changes with respect to sex and gender that have occurred in the broader American culture. The discussions and decisions regarding the specific roles that men and women have assumed in the American military during this time have been informed and influenced by thousands of years of evolving moral and ethical norms, as well as cultural, societal and political traditions and developments. However, in 2013, there came a revo-lutionary shift in the role of American women in the military, specifically, opening ground com-bat arms positions to women. This change had little to do with combat effectiveness or efficien-cy, nor with fulfilling the core mission of the military, winning the nation’s wars, considerations that had marked previous changes. The decision was made in order to eliminate perceived dis-crimination in assignments and barriers to promotions and careers, by opening all military occu-pation specialties to women. This thesis will introduce an interdisciplinary perspective of the philosophical, historical, cultural and human factors that formed the foundation for the policy decisions that previously restricted American women from serving in direct ground combat roles. The thesis will examine the conflict between ‘Natural Law’ and ‘Human Law’ and the impact that the interaction of ethics, morality, economics, political power, and cultural changes had on earlier policy decisions to restrict women from ground combat roles, as well as the decision to remove those restrictions. It is the position of this thesis that the decision to allow women to serve in combat arms positions is fundamentally different from the other issues involving the roles of women in the US military. It will argue that ultimately, opposition to this shift is grounded not in questions of sexual and gender equality or practicality but is a moral, ethical and cultural issue. This thesis will reveal that this decision exemplifies how the human quest for ‘a better idea’ may also result in ‘a worse idea’.
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