The Madison Collaborative: Ethical Reasoning in Action

The Madison Collaborative: Ethical Reasoning in Action


The Madison Collaborative: Ethical Reasoning in Action is a campus-wide project a program designed to help develop ethical reasoning skills not just for you as a student, but for me as a faculty member and for all the staff at the university We’re trying to better prepare all of us for the tough choices we will have, the complicated questions that we will face in our personal lives, our professional lives, and as citizens. Let me give you a little background to the Madison Collaborative: Ethical Reasoning in Action A number of years ago Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman wrote a book called On Killing. Dave Grossman became an expert on the strategies and the practices of killing in warfare. Early in his book he identifies a problem with the U.S. Military, identified back in the Civil War. After the Battle of Gettysburg, twenty-eight thousand rifles were collected from the battlefield twenty-four thousand of those rifles were still loaded and of those twenty-four thousand; twelve thousand were loaded twice or more of those twelve thousand, six thousand were loaded three or more times one rifle recovered on the battlefield at Gettysburg was loaded twenty-three times. The question the military faced was: “What’s going on with these loaded rifles?” These were musket-loaded rifles, took time to load, and were not discharged. The answer the military gave was that in the heart of the battle, even when men’s lives were at stake, they did not fire at their enemy Instead, they postured. They loaded their guns trying to show that they were engaged in the battle without actually shooting As time went on the U.S. Military pursued this question of non-firers They discovered it happened again in World War I and surprisingly, in World War II The so-called “Good War” the same phenomenon occurred, only twenty percent of American soldiers in World War II fired at their enemies This presents a serious problem for a military, it presents a problem of those persons they have trained not willing to fire at their enemies what they then did was look into their training process and I know something about this training process myself because my father fought in World War II he was a sharpshooter that protected American soldiers as they went on the islands of the South Pacific He was trained by lying on his stomach and aiming at a target a hundred yards away As a result of their findings in World War II, the U.S. Military changed their training plan they consulted psychologists and they introduced operant conditioning instead of shooting at a target, they had human formed objects pop up so that soldiers would learn to shoot on reflex without thinking the U.S. Military solved the problem of non-firers by replacing reflection with reflex The Madison Collaborative: Ethical Reasoning in Action is designed to reverse engineer that process, we are trying to replace reflex with reflection. When we face difficult choices, complicated cases it’s better to think through those cases rather than simply act on reflex it’s better to raise questions, rather than simply act

4 thoughts on “The Madison Collaborative: Ethical Reasoning in Action”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *