By Harry SarlesMarch 26, 2019
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan.-- The U.S. Army Command and General Staff College hosted the 10th annual Ethics Symposium March 25 at the Lewis and Clark Center here. The day-long symposium, cosponsored by CGSC and the CGSC Foundation, began with a keynote address by Dr. Shannon French, the CGSC Foundation Gen. Hugh Shelton Distinguished Visiting Chair of Ethics, and included panel discussions on "When Things Go Wrong: Genocide, War Crimes, and Other Atrocities," and "Transhumanism, AI and LSCO."
French, who has held the Foundation's Ethics Chair since February 2017, led off the symposium saying her concern was more 'jus in bello,' the ethical conduct of warfare, rather than 'jus ad bellum,' the concept of just war that considers have we gone to war for the right reasons. She challenged the 1,100 CGSC students and other symposium attendees to "connect to the past, and look to the future."
She noted many of today's hot topics have roots in history. Today's concern about autonomous killer robots is a reflection of the history of land mines, also autonomous killing machines, that goes back hundreds of years. Medically or mechanically enhanced human warriors, transhumanism, is another of today's hot topics. Looking at history, Celtic warp spasmers, and many other warrior casts used chemical enhancement to add strength, lower sensitivity to pain, and decrease fear making them superior fighters on the battlefield.
Moral harmony, the idea there is always a right thing to do and Greek concept of moral tragedy, the idea that many situations are 'no-win' are in conflict, said French. She explained the warfighter must sometimes choose between the 'lesser of two evils,' or decide to accomplish one objective while letting another go unanswered. Making these types of decisions within the construct of personal, professional, and societal ethics is the essence of 'jus in bello.'
Finally, French challenged symposium attendees to "be part of the conservation!"
Between the large group sessions, CGSC students, CGSC faculty members, and other researchers presented their ethics research papers in 30 breakout sessions. Two students and two non-students earned symposium awards for best papers in their categories. The best student papers were written by Maj. Chase Spears, "Ethical Communication Approach for 21st Century Military Victory," and Capt. Dana Gingrich, "What are the ethical implications of the rise of AI and the marginalization of humans?"
Top non-student papers were authored by Chap. (Maj.) William J. Sheets, command chaplain at the Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School, "Transhumanism and LSCO," and Mark Montesclaros, assistant professor in the Department of Joint Interagency and Multinational Operations at CGSC's Fort Gordon Campus, "Plans from Hell: The Third Reich and the Eastern Front."