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Situationism, Normative Competence, and Responsibility for Wartime Behavior

Talbert, Matthew LU (2009) In Journal of Value Inquiry 43(3). p.415-432
Abstract
In April of 2004, about a year after the start of the Iraq War, a story broke in the American media about the abuse of Iraqi detainees by American soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad.1 From the beginning, editorialists and science writers noted affinities between what happened at Abu Ghraib and Philip Zimbardo’s 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment.2 Zimbardo’s experiment is part of a body of data composing the situationist research in social psychology, which calls into question common assumptions about the relation between personality and behavior. In particular, situationists claim that the contexts in which agents act have a larger influence on behavior, and that personality traits have a smaller influence, than is ordinarily... (More)
In April of 2004, about a year after the start of the Iraq War, a story broke in the American media about the abuse of Iraqi detainees by American soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad.1 From the beginning, editorialists and science writers noted affinities between what happened at Abu Ghraib and Philip Zimbardo’s 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment.2 Zimbardo’s experiment is part of a body of data composing the situationist research in social psychology, which calls into question common assumptions about the relation between personality and behavior. In particular, situationists claim that the contexts in which agents act have a larger influence on behavior, and that personality traits have a smaller influence, than is ordinarily supposed. Recently, there has been increased interest among philosophers in research like Zimbardo’s and its potential for influencing ethical theories. This increase is due in part to the 2002 publication of John Doris’s Lack of Character, which contains important discussions of the philosophical implications of situationism. More recently, Doris and Dominic Murphy have argued that soldiers, including those at Abu Ghraib, often act under conditions of moral excuse because the situational pressures to which they are exposed impair their capacities for moral judgment. We will see that soldiers can be morally responsible for wartime behavior, even if their moral capacities have been substantially impaired. (Less)
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author
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Journal of Value Inquiry
volume
43
issue
3
pages
415 - 432
publisher
Springer
external identifiers
  • scopus:70350560330
ISSN
0022-5363
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
f13af970-82da-48fc-8cd2-62d06eab7f23
date added to LUP
2019-05-30 18:00:04
date last changed
2019-11-13 05:35:06
@article{f13af970-82da-48fc-8cd2-62d06eab7f23,
  abstract     = {In April of 2004, about a year after the start of the Iraq War, a story broke in the American media about the abuse of Iraqi detainees by American soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad.1 From the beginning, editorialists and science writers noted affinities between what happened at Abu Ghraib and Philip Zimbardo’s 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment.2 Zimbardo’s experiment is part of a body of data composing the situationist research in social psychology, which calls into question common assumptions about the relation between personality and behavior. In particular, situationists claim that the contexts in which agents act have a larger influence on behavior, and that personality traits have a smaller influence, than is ordinarily supposed. Recently, there has been increased interest among philosophers in research like Zimbardo’s and its potential for influencing ethical theories. This increase is due in part to the 2002 publication of John Doris’s Lack of Character, which contains important discussions of the philosophical implications of situationism. More recently, Doris and Dominic Murphy have argued that soldiers, including those at Abu Ghraib, often act under conditions of moral excuse because the situational pressures to which they are exposed impair their capacities for moral judgment. We will see that soldiers can be morally responsible for wartime behavior, even if their moral capacities have been substantially impaired.},
  author       = {Talbert, Matthew},
  issn         = {0022-5363},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {415--432},
  publisher    = {Springer},
  series       = {Journal of Value Inquiry},
  title        = {Situationism, Normative Competence, and Responsibility for Wartime Behavior},
  volume       = {43},
  year         = {2009},
}