What's Wrong with Military Involvement in Schools?

ERI 149
Wednesday 13 March 2019 (15:15-17:00)

Dr Jonathan Parry (University of Birmingham)

Jonathan is a Birmingham Research Fellow in Global Ethics and a member of the Centre for the Study of Global Ethics.

He joined Birmingham in October 2015, following a post-doctoral fellowship at Stockholm University. He completed my doctoral studies at the University of Sheffield, during which he was also a visiting student at Rutgers University, USA.

His work explores how the resources of political and legal philosophy can shed light on topics in normative and applied ethics. He is currently working on two main projects. The first is the ethics of using force, and the morality of non-state violence and humanitarian intervention in particular. The second explores the ethics of public health policies, and especially the question of the extent to which paternalism objections apply to public health interventions.

For more information, please visit his website.


The UK is an international outlier in that it recruits sixteen-year-olds into its armed forces. This shows no sign of changing.  Over the last decade there has a been an increase in efforts to recruit teenagers and promote the military to children in schools, with more planned for the future. This paper argues that these practices are pro tanto wrong insofar as they expose individuals to moral risk. One imposes moral risk on an individual by increasing the probability that they will commit serious moral wrongs. The wrong of this risk is partly grounded in the fact that wrongdoing harms the wrongdoer. The paper: (i) argues that the military is a morally risky profession, (ii) argues that engaging in serious moral wrongdoing is prudentially bad, (iii) outlines several mechanisms by which one can expose others to moral risk, (iv) and argues that several aspects of UK education practice are unduly morally risky and are in tension with the government’s obligations to protect its citizens from harm. 

This seminar is part of the 2018-19 Global Ethics Tea Seminar Series hosted by the Centre for the Study of Global Ethics.

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