In the context of this entry, ethics will be understood to refer primarily, though not exclusively, to military ethics. In the past, military ethics (when it was even considered at all as a distinct topic) was liable to be characterized ungenerously, as a kind of oxymoron—inasmuch as military force is often understood merely as indiscriminate and destructive violence ensuing when both the normal moral order and the rule of law have collapsed. Otherwise, military ethics would likely be described as a synonym for the “just war” theory, in turn misleadingly portrayed as a conversation of limited cultural and historical jurisdiction carried on among Christian theologians (primarily Roman Catholics of the medieval era in western Europe) concerning the permissibility of waging war in defense of the ...

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