Assessing values and standards among junior British Army officers – an inter disciplinary approach

David Ian Walker

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


A defining feature of any profession is its ethic or code of ethics. A professions’ distinctive moral status stems from the societal good it performs and ethical codes are derived from this (Bayles 1988; Oakley and Cocking 2002; Wolfendale 2009). Army officers are key upholders of ethical and professional standards in the British Army and six values (virtues) are prized. These are courage, discipline, respect for others, integrity, loyalty and selfless commitment. Being a youthful and unique profession, the Army needs to regularly reproduce itself by training and developing officer entrants who are recruited from a rapidly changing society. The intensity and duration of recent military operations have been accompanied by changing roles and a number of moral failures such as the case of Baha Mousa who was an Iraqi hotel worker who died in custody following ill-treatment by seven members of the Queens Lancashire Regiment. The proposed paper will outline a forthcoming study, in collaboration with the British Army, to assess character and virtue among junior Army officers. Participants will be cadets at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and serving lieutenants and junior and senior captains. The paper will advocate the use of moral dilemmas in the Intermediate Concept tradition (ICM), developed by Rest, Narvaez, Bebeau and Thoma (1999). Based on USA military versions, four dilemmas have been adapted for the British Army to assess courage, loyalty, respect for others and integrity. Discipline and selfless commitment will be assessed by two other methods: a new self-report measure in the lineage of values in action surveys, together with semi-structured interviews. The study combines the disciplinary approaches of sociology, psychology and philosophy.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016
EventCharacter and Virtue in the Professions: An Interdisciplinary Conference - Birmingham
Duration: 1 Jun 2016 → …


ConferenceCharacter and Virtue in the Professions: An Interdisciplinary Conference
Period1/06/16 → …
Internet address


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