Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress Application / Discussion: Military Service

Ethical decisions often on the factual judgments that were made previously. 

The problem depends heavily on one’s personal assessment of a political situation, for instance whether a military engagement is truly a defensive action or not. 

Arguments against military service

  1. “War comes from war” (factually correct, but etymologically incorrect): States have a will and desire for power, for expansion, and tend to war (as already mentioned by Plato, Politeia 2) 
  2. Clausewitz: “War is the continuation of politics by other means” Rattling the sabers in foreign policy as a response to domestic political issues is only in the interests of the powerful, not the people. 
  3. “Genetic law of war”: (Thielicke, Theol.Ethik II, 2) Pull of the armaments industry: (similar to the pull of drugs or money); Fascination with armaments which is expressed in parades, flight demonstrations, etc. 
  4. According to the German Constitution, the Bundeswehr was once conceived as a purely defense army 
  5. Lack of personal responsibility on the part of the soldier: Disinformation campaigns make ethical decisions impossible. Eg: Hitler’s attack on Poland: “We will begin returning fire starting at 6”


Arguments for Military Service

  1. Argument of power politics: Power is not inherently bad: without power one is “powerless” every power vacuum is immediately occupied and filled by others 
  2. The argument of prevention: “Si vis pacem para bellum” 
  3. The argument of emergency aid as charity: Luther: Christians are allowed to engage in emergency aid, even where self-defense is not allowed. This conclusion is admittedly unsatisfactory: a satisfactory statement, binding for all Christians only based on faith, is in my opinion. not possible as it always depends on a previous assessment of the political situation.