Introduction

1. A fundamental concern of the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence is the strength and vitality of its ethical culture. The Canadian public expects the highest moral standards from defence personnel and has the right to do so. The ethical culture of defence is complex and can sometimes appear to be paradoxical. On the one hand, it is an integral part of Canadian society and must reflect its fundamental values. On the other hand, the nature of defence can involve, in justifiable cases, the controlled use of destructive power in ways that would otherwise be considered morally wrong in our democratic society. In response to important factors that highlighted the need to re-emphasize ethical decision-making and integrity in government as a whole, senior defence leaders endorsed the development of an ethics program for Defence in February 1994 and formally authorised the Defence Ethics Program in December 1997. The program provides an articulated and visible ethical focus for the Canadian Forces and its members and the Department of National Defence and its employees.

2. This paper provides a general introduction to the fundamentals of the Defence Ethics Program. Accordingly, it presents the manner in which the Defence Ethics Program has dealt with philosophical, social psychological, and administrative issues related to defence ethics. In particular, it presents three hypotheses that have been the basis for the development of the program. It analyses three different approaches to developing ethics programs. And, it considers the contribution and the limits of the paradigm of a profession to the foundations of Defence ethics. The paper takes a detailed look at the Statement of Defence Ethics and its application. It discusses the complexity of moral development in the individual, and in particular the approach that has guided the development of the Defence Ethics Program in this area. Finally, in addressing the issue of institutional responsibility, it explains in detail in what way the Defence Ethics Program provides an ethical framework for Defence.

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