Thoughts of a Soldier-Ethicist

I am a Soldier who believes in the moral standing of my profession, yet knows that we could improve and is committed to serving that cause. I have served as an enlisted infantryman, as an infantry officer in the 1st AD and 82nd ABN, and as a philosophy instructor at West Point. Please engage with me in an online conversation about morality and the profession of arms. Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not purport to reflect the position of USMA, DA, or DOD.

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Location: West Point, New York, United States

Army officer; two short deployments to Iraq (03, 07), three to Afghanistan (09, 10, 11); Ph.D in Education (Penn State); M.A. in Philosophy (Virginia Tech); B.S. in Political Science (West Point); married, father of four sons.

Friday, May 23, 2008

NBC Dateline

I received word this week that the "Dateline" episode this Memorial Day Weekend, on Sunday 25 May at 7pm EDT, will address the guilt that many soldiers experience after killing (justly) in war.

Dateline came by my office last October and filmed an interview. I hope that the show will raise awareness on the issue. A big first step to helping our soldiers make sense of their experience of killing in war is breaking the taboo and becoming more honest about the moral reality of war. A second necessary step is having a shared vocabulary that enables soldiers and citizens to talk about the wrestle through the concepts and experiences. Traditional Just War Theory is woefully in adequate in addressing the moral issues of individual killing. Hopefully my writing has contributed to both goals. More needs to be done. I invite you to join the discussion and the cause.


Blogger Jeff said...

Pete, I am a retired Air Force chief now engaged in, among other things, spiritual direction. I watched your segment on Dateline, and it immediately hit home. Although I have never killed anyone, I recognized the truth when I heard it.

The segment began to coalesce some thoughts I had rolling around in my mind concerning how to help military members suffering from the trauma they've encountered in war. I would like to share them with you in a media other than this. you can reach me at


Jeff Tschida

June 8, 2008 at 8:24 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Pete, I came across your blog while doing research for my thesis on just war theory and have enjoyed reading it. I was wondering if you still teach PY201 at West Point. I'd be interested in knowing more about the syllabus. From what I can gather just war theory is a very important feature of the class. I'd really appreciate it if you got in touch so we could talk a little more.

August 24, 2008 at 3:40 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Sorry, forgot my e-mail address: chug02 (at)

August 24, 2008 at 3:42 AM  

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