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Much of bioethics is founded on the principles of autonomy, beneﬁcence, non-maleﬁcence, and justice. But when bioethics and military ethics combine, many of these principles seem to be compromised. In large part, this is due to the military setting, with its unique requirements, in particular the obligation to obey all legal orders.
In civilian bioethics, there are common principles which are considered to be almost universal in application, mainly in regard to autonomy, consent, and sharing the burden of risk. However, norms such as these do not necessarily apply in the intersection between bioethics and military ethics, which thus raises issues worthy of signiﬁcant consideration. This entry will be split into two main parts. The ﬁrst part will explore what military ethics is in regard to the main ethical tradition of the justice of war. The second part will explore the particular issues that occur in regard to bioethics within the military setting. It should be noted that for the purposes of this entry, the term “soldier” will be used to refer generically to all military personnel, including airmen and women, sailors, marines, etc.
There are three main points of view regarding the ethics of war. Paciﬁsts argue that war (and indeed killing more generally) is never justiﬁed. Realists argue that the ideas of ethics do not apply to international relations in general and to international armed conﬂicts in particular. Just war theorists argue that in some cases states (and some non-state groups) are justiﬁed in engaging in armed conﬂict, provided certain conditions are met before the use of armed force is resorted to and provided that certain limitations, which are designed to limit the destructiveness of this use of armed force, are followed (Coleman 2013). Given the evils of the world and the crimes of mass atrocity which have been committed, including such things as genocide and ethnic cleansing, the paciﬁst claim that it is always wrong to engage in warfare is difﬁcult to sustain. It is also difﬁcult to understand the realist claim that the ideas of ethics simply do not apply to international relations, when those ideas do apply to all other forms of human interaction. Thus, it is just war theory which is, by far, the dominant theory with regard to the ethics of war. The just war theory which is discussed in the world today has evolved out of a long tradition of thought which stretches back at least to Ancient Greece and incorporates ideas from many different writers and many different cultures. In modern times, the most comprehensive statement of the ideas of just war theory is Michael Walzer’s book Just and Unjust Wars (Walzer 1977), which is referred to by almost all other writers on this topic.
The idea of just war theory is to provide limits on when it is appropriate to go to war in the ﬁrst place as well as limits on how wars actually ought to be fought in those cases where warfare is ethically justiﬁed. Just war theory is traditionally taken to have two aspects. The ﬁrst part of just war theory, jus ad bellum (justice of war) deals with when it is right to resort to war rather than attempting to resolve a dispute by other means. Jus ad bellum suggests that there are six conditions which must be fulﬁlled in order for a state (or state-like entity) to be justiﬁed in going to war.
- The state must have a just cause. Usually these days, it is thought that the only just cause is defense against aggression: defending yourself from aggression, defending someone else who is defenseless against aggression, and so on.
- The state must have the right intention in going to war, in that it may only go to war because of this just cause.
- Whoever is declaring war must have the proper authority to do so and must make a public declaration of war. The basic idea here is that only certain people, such as the head of state, have the appropriate level of authority to declare war and thus that war cannot be declared by, for example, some junior ofﬁcer on the front line.
- War must be a last (reasonable) resort. A state needs to have tried every other reasonable option before deciding that it will resort to war.
- A state is only justiﬁed in going to war if there is a genuine likelihood of success. Thus, a war which has little chance of improving the situation is not going to be ethically justiﬁed.
- That the war must obey the requirement of proportionality. The beneﬁts that a state will achieve by going to war have to actually be substantial enough to justify all the damage and destruction that will be caused in the course of pursuing the war.
The second part of just war theory is jus in bello (justice in war) which deals with the conduct of those who are actually ﬁghting the war. Jus in bello suggests the ﬁghting is only going to be ethically justiﬁed if it meets two conditions.
- Warfare must be discriminate. This means only attacking legitimate targets.
- Warfare must be conducted in a manner which is proportionate. The concept here is similar to the requirement for proportionality in jus ad bellum; however, during war, the idea is that the damage which is done in any particular attack has to be limited to what is reasonable in terms of achieving the military objective that was the aim of that particular attack.
In recent times, there has also been some discussion of a proposed third aspect of just war theory known as jus post bellum (justice after war) and its derivative jus ex bello, which deals with peace agreements and ending wars, essentially the business of moving from war back into peace, especially with the aim of producing a just and lasting peace after war. This third part of just war theory may become more signiﬁcant in the future, but at this point in time, it is the principles of jus ad bellum and jus in bello which are of the most importance. In fact, these aspects of just war theory have been so inﬂuential that parts of both jus ad bellum and jus in bello have become incorporated into international law regarding the use of armed force.
While there is some dispute about the issue, most just war scholars argue that the ideas of jus ad bellum and jus in bello are logically distinct, and it is therefore perfectly possible for a war to meet one of these standards without meeting both of them. This distinction is even clearer in international law. Thus, unjust or illegal wars, which fail to meet the criteria of jus ad bellum, may be conducted in a justiﬁable manner, that is, in accordance with jus in bello. Similarly, wars which are justiﬁed, in that they meet the criteria of jus ad bellum, may be conducted in a non-justiﬁable manner, in that they fail to meet the criteria of jus in bello (Coleman 2013).
When discussing issues of “military ethics,” the main focus tends to be on the problems raised by the principles of jus in bello. Some realists have argued that such ideas are ridiculous and that the only thing which matters in war is winning, in other words that “all is fair in love and war.” There are several famous quotations which are often offered in support of this view, such as General William Sherman’s “War is hell” and “War is cruelty and you cannot reﬁne it” or the Prussian Chief of Staff General von Moltke’s suggestion that “the greatest kindness in war is to bring it to a speedy conclusion. It should be allowable, with that view, to employ all means.” (Walzer 1977). Yet even von Moltke conceded that there were in fact some limits which ought to be applied to warfare, for the full version of the second sentence of the quotation reads, “It should be allowable, with that view, to employ all means save those that are absolutely objectionable.” Since a great number of the ideas of jus in bello have been codiﬁed into international law, perhaps it can be concluded that these laws specify what von Moltke did not, those things which are absolutely objectionable in war.
While there are a number of other ideas which are often discussed under the heading of jus in bello, such as a ban on the use of prohibited weapons or the use of methods which are mala in se (i.e., evil in themselves), these can be seen to be derived, at least in substantial part, from the principles of discrimination and proportionality. Thus, this discussion will focus only on those two principles. Given the intricate link between ethics and law, it is unsurprising that the principles of discrimination and proportionality should be found in those sections of international law which deal with the conduct of war. While the focus of the discussion here is on ethics rather than law, points of international law will be noted at times, since the fact that an ethical principle has come to be established as a point of law serves to demonstrate the importance of that ethical principle.
At their core, the ideas of the principles of discrimination and proportionality represent an attempt to limit the destruction which inevitably arises in war. The principle of discrimination asserts that the only appropriate targets are those concerned with the enemy’s war effort, and the principle of proportionality claims that the damage which is done in prosecuting such targets needs to be in line with the actual military value of the target itself. Fundamentally, the principle of discrimination requires those charged with carrying out military operations to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate targets. The principle is usually laid out as a series of rules of warfare which are often discussed under the heading of noncombatant immunity. It is this aspect of the principle which most frequently ﬁnds its way into the international law of armed conﬂict and where breaches of the principle of discrimination are generally considered to be the most serious within those same laws. Despite many writers, particularly lawyers, discussing noncombatant immunity and discrimination as if they were one and the same, there is more to discrimination than noncombatant immunity, since the principle requires that military personnel distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate attacks not only on people but also on structures, equipment, materials, and so on (Coleman 2013).
It has to be recognized that in warfare, perfect discrimination is not always possible, for military and civilian facilities often exist side by side and enemy military personnel may be in close proximity to civilians. So though a soldier might be attacking a legitimate military target, they can foresee that there will be civilian casualties as well. Causing the death or wounding of noncombatants in such attacks is commonly described in military circles as collateral damage. Collateral damage is acceptable in an attack as long as certain conditions are met, conditions which basically coincide with those required by the doctrine of double effect (DDE). In general terms, if a person is acting with the aim of achieving a good effect but foresees that their action will also produce bad consequences, it is permitted for the person to take this action as long as certain other conditions are met. In military terms, what this means is that if a soldier is doing something which is ordinarily permissible in war, e.g., attacking a legitimate target, and is doing so with a legitimate aim, e.g., intending to kill enemy troops and not kill enemy civilians, and if the good which will be achieved is, in military terms, proportional to the damage which will be done, then the attack may be launched, despite the foreseen collateral damage.
As can be seen, the second principle of jus in bello, that of proportionality, is important in the discussion of the legitimacy of collateral damage. The principle asserts that the destruction which is being brought about by military operations must not be out of line with the good end which is being sought through those operations. So, as military personnel go about the business of war, they ought to ensure that they do not kill more people, even enemy military personnel, or cause more destruction, even of enemy military equipment and installations, than is necessary in order to achieve their objective. While this may seem an odd claim, especially to those who are currently involved in ﬁghting a war, it makes more sense when it is considered in greater depth.
People rarely, if ever, go to war simply for the sake of going to war; usually, there is some particular objective being sought. Since few wars result in utter military defeat and occupation for one of the belligerents, it has to be recognized from the time a war begins that at some point diplomatic negotiations will probably take place. While people would obviously prefer to negotiate from a position of strength, which means conducting a successful military campaign, this is not the same thing as leveling undue destruction upon your enemy. Engaging in excessive destruction, i.e., using means which are not proportional, is likely to make your enemy resentful and thus less likely to want to negotiate a lasting peace, not to mention the fact that a resentful enemy is likely to resist for longer, thus prolonging the war. So the principle of proportionality can be seen as a means of attempting to ensure that a just peace is still possible after the war has ended (Coleman 2013).
One of the ways in which the principles of jus in bello have been incorporated into international law is through the banning of certain types of warfare. For example, there are a number of weapons, or types of weapons, which have been banned by international convention, either because they are seen to inﬂict unnecessary suffering, i.e., they are disproportionate, or because they are seen to be indiscriminate. For example, chemical and biological weapons and antipersonnel landmines have all been banned by international treaties on the grounds that they are indiscriminate, and permanently blinding laser weapons and weapons designed to produce fragments undetectable by x-rays have been banned as being disproportionate.
Bioethics In The Military Setting
When considering issues beyond those raised by the basic destructiveness of war, bioethics in the military setting raises a number of unique issues that are not found in other environments. In regard to military personnel, these issues fall basically into three main categories: (a) issues that mainly impact on medical professionals, (b) issues that mainly impact on soldiers, and (c) issues that mainly impact on animals.
The requirement for military members to follow orders makes the application of bioethics unique in the military setting. When a person, including a member of one of the medical professions, “signs up” to join the military, whether as an ofﬁcer or an enlisted person, they agree to obey all legal orders; this is usually interpreted to be anything that is legal under International Humanitarian Law and under the domestic law of the state in question (noting that the domestic law will usually contain certain speciﬁc exemptions for actions carried out by military personnel during times of war). This requirement has an integral role in the functioning of the military organization since it is essential for commanders on the battleﬁeld to have conﬁdence that their orders have been, and will be, fully carried out, even in cases where soldiers have been ordered to kill enemy soldiers or where soldiers have been ordered into a situation where they may also be killed. However, it is not only on the battleﬁeld that orders have to be followed, since the duty to follow orders is seen to be foundational to the “good order and discipline” of the military and thus applies in all military contexts, in peacetime, in war, and anywhere in between.
A person serving in the military who fails to obey a legal order faces the possibility of severe punishments, a situation which even those in similarly dangerous occupations do not face in the same circumstances. A police ofﬁcer or person working for a private military company, for example, may well be ﬁred for refusing to obey an order. But military personnel under the same circumstances are likely to end up in prison. Under the US Code of Military Justice, for example, a soldier found guilty of disobeying a legal order during peacetime faces 2 years in a military prison, followed by a dishonorable discharge (US Code of Military Justice – Article 92 e.1); if the offense occurs during time of war, then the punishment can include death (US Code of Military Justice – Article 90 e.3). In Australia, failure to obey an order can result in a maximum term in prison of 15 years (Defence Force Discipline Act 1982, Sect 15F).
The requirement to obey all legal orders places medical personnel and soldiers in a unique position in regard to decisions regarding medical care. For a soldier under medical care, all medical personnel are considered to be superior ofﬁcers, and thus they are able to issue lawful commands which must be followed; such a situation applies in all contexts, with regard to routine medical care all the way through to medical decisions on the battleﬁeld. Thus, the only control which soldiers have over their own medical care is that which is granted to them by their physicians; the autonomy of soldiers as patients can be, and routinely is, ignored.
Military Bioethical Issues That Mainly Affect Medical Personnel
There are a number of unique bioethical issues which may arise for military medical personnel, particularly arising out of the fact that such personnel “serve two masters” with regard to their professional conduct. As members of the military, medical personnel are required to follow all legal orders, but as members of the greater medical profession, they are required to abide by the principles of medical ethics. Signiﬁcant issues can arise when these requirements come into conﬂict.
In order to provide the best outcomes for the greatest number of patients, medical professionals around the world classify patients through the process of triage. This process ensures that patients are seen in order of their clinical urgency, with those needing immediate medical attention being treated ﬁrst. However, military medical personnel may be ordered to comply with military mandated triage procedures, which conﬂicts with the usual principles of triage. Thus, in addition to the standard triage categories, the medical care of patients may also be assessed according to their military status (US Army Medical Department Center and School 2013). For example, according to US Army standard military triage procedures, which are also used by most NATO countries (Adams 2008), priority of treatment is given to:
- Military personnel from one’s own country
- Allied military personnel
- Private military contractors or employees of nongovernment organizations, such as aid agencies
- Enemy prisoners of war
- Noncombatant local or third party nationals (i.e., civilians)
These competing priorities in triage highlight the need for medical personnel to balance the needs of medical care and military necessity. Not only is it vital for a military to provide medical care to their soldiers in order to increase operational effectiveness but giving medical priority to “friendly” casualties may also be politically important in terms of maintaining “home” support for these military operations. However, considerations of operational effectiveness, morale, and political support go against the standard understandings of the triage system, which prioritizes people according to their medical need, not country of origin or military value.
Another extremely contentious issue for medical practitioners in the military environment is their role in interrogation, torture, and forced feeding. There are several roles which medical practitioners may have in these activities which might be considered morally dubious in the civilian setting. Such roles include the following:
– The certiﬁcation of prisoners as being ﬁt for interrogation or torture. (This might include certifying that prisoners are ﬁt for physical enhanced interrogation techniques such as slapping, hooding, chaining, sleep deprivation, the use of loud music, prolonged standing, and water boarding. Examples of this certiﬁcation have been found in Guantanamo Bay (2004) and in Israel (1993)).
– The provision of medical care for prisoners who are subject to interrogation and torture. This may include treating prisoners for wounds sustained before the interrogation begins or for injuries sustained during the interrogation, as well providing medical advice on the limits or duration of the torture and/or advice as when the torture should be terminated.
– Tailoring speciﬁc interrogation plans for prisoners, based on the psychological proﬁle and physical limitations of the prisoner. This behavior is clearly at odds with the standard principles of medical conﬁdentiality and of doing no harm.
– Michael Gross has identiﬁed instances of medical practitioners participating in passive torture, for example, by stabilizing prisoners, but not supplying them with painkillers until an interrogation has been completed (Gross 2006).
– Force feeding prisoners who have embarked on a hunger strike. This goes against the standard assumption of autonomy in regard to medical care and seems to be motivated not by what is in the interests of the patient, but by political or national security considerations.
The participation of medical practitioners in the activities of interrogation, torture, and forced feeding of prisoners highlights the conﬂicting duties that military medical personnel have a duty to obey orders issued by the military in which they serve and a duty to provide the best possible care to their patient. This conﬂict can be particularly stark in some cases, such as when following the orders issued by the military would result in a clear violation of the ethics of the professional body which has licensed the member’s medical practice. In such a situation, following the order might result in the loss of the license to practice, but not following the order might see one imprisoned for a lengthy period especially in time of war. The problem of dual loyalty may be common to medical practitioners working in other ﬁelds, such as corporate medicine, but the potential consequences in the military sphere are massively higher. A doctor who refuses to follow the “company policy” in regard to health care can be ﬁred, but a military doctor who refuses to follow orders, even orders which violate medical ethics, could potentially be sentenced to death in time of war.
Military Bioethical Issues That Mainly Impact On Soldiers
Many of the ethical issues which affect soldiers come about as a result of the obligation to obey all legal orders, including the orders of medical personnel (who, as has already been mentioned, are always considered to outrank those under their care). In the normal medical setting, patients are afforded the right to make decisions about their own medical care, with this right only being set aside if the patient is unable to make an informed decision, such as in the case of being unconscious or mentally unsound. In the military setting, however, the ultimate decision regarding medical care and treatment is given to the medical practitioner, not the military member who is the patient, a situation which appears at odds with the fundamental right to autonomy in regard to medical decisions. This once again highlights the competing duties of military medical personnel, who must balance the needs of the patient against military necessity and operational effectiveness. However, this situation also reveals some signiﬁcant issues for the soldier-patient as well.
In the civilian medical setting, conﬁdentiality regarding medical records is a fundamental principle in medical care. In the military setting, however, the situation is more complicated. Military medical personnel can be ordered to breach conﬁdentiality, particularly in cases where a member of the military might be thought to be a danger to others. Thus, it is not unreasonable for military personnel to assume that all their discussions with medical personnel, including psychiatrists and psychologists, are NOT conﬁdential. Since confessing physical or psychological problems to military medical personnel may have a longterm effect on a soldier’s military career and since military personnel in many jurisdictions are routinely forbidden from seeking medical treatment from nonmilitary sources, this lack of conﬁdentiality may well make military personnel more reluctant to seek medical help when it is required.
Because military personnel must obey all legal orders, even in regard to medical care and treatment, they are vulnerable to exploitation, particularly in regard to being used for medical experimentation. Since a soldier who is ordered to take part in medical experimentation is legally unable to refuse, any consent the soldier may have given might well be considered null and void. As a result of this, consent for participation in medical research in the military setting may not be obtained, and in some instances, military personnel are not even advised that they are taking part in a medical experiment; the trial of experimental vaccines on military personnel is a historical example of such a situation. It seems that military personnel can be used in medical experiments, not out of a military necessity, but because they form a large cohort of ﬁt healthy young people who are unable to refuse participation. This goes against foundational principles in bioethics, as highlighted in the Declaration of Helsinki (1964–2008), which has at its core the respect for individual persons, the right to self-determination, and the right to make informed decisions. It also goes against the principle of justice, in regard to the fact that subjects in experiments should be recruited for reasons related to the problem being studied, not because of the ease of recruitment or the ease of exploitation. Civilians are protected from such exploitation, but there have been some arguments presented which make the claim that this sort of treatment of military personnel is ethically justiﬁed.
In the United States, military personnel are further set apart from the general population in regard to medical care, in that they are unable to sue for medical negligence. This situation comes about as a result of a legal precedent called the “Feres doctrine,” which is based on a combined ruling by the US Supreme Court, on three separate cases, handed down in 1950. The three cases were that of a soldier who died in a barracks ﬁre, a soldier who died while in the hospital having surgery, and a soldier who had a towel (marked with the words “Medical Department US Army”) left in his stomach during an appendectomy. The ruling by the Supreme Court found that “the Government is not liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act for injuries to servicemen where the injuries arise out of or are in the course of activity incident to service” (US Supreme Court 1950 – 340 U.S. 135(71 S.Ct. 153, 95 L. Ed. 152)). The basis for the Feres doctrine appears to be the idea that if military personnel were able to sue for negligence, then this would undermine good order and discipline in the military. The Feres doctrine effectively makes US military personnel second-class citizens in the eyes of the law, given that they are unable to sue even in the case of proven negligence. The US situation is in stark contrast to that in the United Kingdom, where in 2013 the UK Supreme Court ruled that the families of six military personnel killed in Iraq could sue for negligence and make damages claims under European Union human rights legislation. This landmark ruling declared that the government has a legal duty to protect its soldiers and their human rights, even on the battleﬁeld (Smith & Ors vs Ministry of Defence 2013).
While there is no room to discuss such things here, it should be noted that there are various bioethical issues with regard to new military technologies, which may impact soldiers in the not too distant future. In particular, soldiers may be required to “consent” to a range of physical and/or pharmaceutical enhancements (which might include such things as mechanical cybernetic devices, brain-machine interfaces, experimental medications, and experimental genetic procedures) not because such things are therapeutic, but because they are thought to be a military necessity. This once again raises issues with regard to informed consent and the military requirement to obey all legal orders.
Military Bioethical Issues That Mainly Impact On Animals
Animals have been used for military purposes for thousands of years. Some of these animals have been highly trained, like cavalry horses and modern detector dogs, while others have been almost entirely untrained, like the draft animals used for hauling wagons and weaponry. While the bioethical issues raised by the use of animals in the military setting cannot be considered in any real depth, these issues are certainly worth a brief discussion.
Animals have been used in a range of military operations, in direct combat situations, in peripheral operations, in communications, and in spying. Almost all of these animals have been mammals, due to their higher intelligence, though some birds (e.g., carrier pigeons) have also been used. Animals which are in proximity to troops in combat are obviously the most likely to be at risk of death or crippling injury (which will usually lead to euthanasia), but even animals engaged in relatively low-risk operations can be killed or injured, sometimes in unexpected ways. For example, in the 1960s the CIA spent millions of dollars on Operation Acoustic Kitty, which surgically modiﬁed cats to allow them to be used to spy on Soviet embassies. Unfortunately the program ended in 1967 when the ﬁrst cat to be released, near the Soviet embassy in Washington DC, was almost immediately run over by a taxi and killed.
However animals have been trained and however valuable they are thought to be, animals used for military purposes have always been taken into dangerous environments and have almost always been considered even more expendable than soldiers. Consider the well trained horses used in cavalry units for example. In extreme cases in battle, such horses might be shot so that their bodies might be used to create rudimentary fortiﬁcations (as was apparently the case at the famous Battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as Custer’s Last Stand); in cases where supplies ran low, horses might be shot and eaten. Horses were even more disposable after a war had concluded; at the end of World War One, for example, horses used by the Australian military were unable to be transported back to Australia due to the cost of transportation and strict Australian quarantine laws. Most horses in Europe were sold, while horses used in the Middle East were given away, sold, or destroyed. All told, some 120,000 horses transported from Australia during World War One did not return after the war had ended, creating critical shortages in Australian agriculture for years to come.
Highly trained animals are still used in the modern military, but despite their expense such animals are still considered expendable. While animals used by the military are often given an honorary rank, they are not given the same privileges as the humans they serve alongside. This is most starkly illustrated by the difference in policy in regard to the treatment of “friendly” military personnel captured or killed in action, as opposed to “friendly” animals killed or captured on the battleﬁeld. US forces in particular are famous for their “leave no man behind” policy, but this does not extend to the animals that serve with those soldiers. Consider, for example, the explosive detection dogs which were used in Afghanistan to help detect improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Dogs captured on the battleﬁeld were not recovered by the US military but left in the hands of their captors. Thus, such dogs were often kept as pets (or used for food) by local Afghanistan families. A speciﬁc example of this sort is the case of Sarbi, an Australian special forces explosive detection dog which went missing in Afghanistan in 2008, during the Battle of Khaz Oruzgan. Sarbi was recovered some 14 months later by an American soldier who noticed the dog being used as a pet by a local family.
Perhaps the most interesting issues regarding the use of animals in a military context are those which arise when animals are trained to attack the enemy, sometimes even at the cost of their own lives. The most famous example of this was during World War Two, when the Soviet Union attempted to train dogs to run and hide under German tanks. These dogs had explosives strapped to a harness on their bodies; the explosives would be detonated by a lever which would be triggered when the dog ran under a tank. There were several problems with this program, most notably the fact that the dogs were trained using Soviet, diesel-powered tanks, not German petrol powered tanks, and so preferred to hide under their own, familiar-smelling tanks, rather than enemy ones. Another problem was the fact that the dogs were usually trained using stationary tanks (in order to save fuel) and so were often scared of moving tanks, returning to the Soviet trenches still carrying their armed explosive vests and thus posing a serious risk to their own troops. While the number of German tanks destroyed by these dogs is unknown, there are veriﬁed accounts of successful attacks by these “antitank” dogs.
One of the more interesting, and recent, examples of the use of animals by the military, which also illustrates some of the problems which can arise in such a context, is modern marine mammal programs, which use animals such as dolphins and sea lions for military tasks. The US Marine Mammal Program apparently only uses marine mammals for essentially noncombatant roles, such as the detection of mines and underwater explosives, and recovery of underwater objects, though in the past marine mammals were apparently used as sentries to detect, but not engage, unauthorized swimmers and divers in port areas. However, the dolphins in the program run by the Soviet Union allegedly engaged in other tasks, which apparently included planting explosives and directly attacking enemy divers, using weapons mounted on the dolphin’s head. This particular program ran into a range of problems after being transferred to the Ukrainian Navy following the breakup of the Soviet Union. In 2013, several of the dolphins, which were apparently carrying military equipment at the time, went missing during a training exercise; it was believed they may have been seeking mates. More recently the military dolphins were “acquired” by the Russian Navy after the 2014 takeover of the Crimean peninsula, where the facility housing them was located.
Much of bioethics is founded on the principles of autonomy, beneﬁcence, non-maleﬁcence, and justice. But when bioethics and military ethics combine, many of these principles seem to be compromised. In large part, this is due to the military setting, with its unique requirements, in particular the obligation to obey all legal orders.
- Adams, M. (2008). Triage priorities and military physicians. In F. Allhof (Ed.), Physicians at war: The dualloyalties challenge (pp. 215–236). New York: Springer.
- Coleman, S. (2013). Military ethics. An introduction with case studies. New York: Oxford University Press. Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 (Aust). Sect 15F.
- Gross, M. (2006). Bioethics and armed conﬂict: Moral dilemmas of medicine and war. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Smith & Ors v The Ministry of Defence. (2013). United Kingdom Supreme Court 41 (19 June 2013).
- United States Army Medical Department Center and School. (2013). Emergency war surgery (4th ed.). Fort Sam Houston/Falls Church: Ofﬁce of The Surgeon General/United States Army.
- US Code of Military Justice – Article 90 e.3.
- US Code of Military Justice – Article 92 e.1.
- US Supreme Court, Feres Doctrine, 1950 – 340 U.S. 135(71 S.Ct. 153, 95 L. Ed. 152).
- Walzer, M. (1977). Just and unjust wars. New York: Basic.
- Gross, M., & Carrick, D. (2013). Military medical ethics for the 21st century. Surrey: Ashgate.
- Miles, S. H. (2010). Oath betrayed: America’s torture doctors. Oakland: University of California Press.
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