The International Society for
Military Ethics (ISME)
the Joint Services Conference on Professional Ethics--JSCOPE)
History, Structure and Purpose
In its formative years ISME benefited from the advice and assistance
of Dr. Daniel Callahan and Bruce Jennings of the Hastings Center,
Briarcliff Manor, NY. During the summer of 1979, a number of
military officers attended a Hastings Center Institute on professional
ethics-this meeting was the beginning of ISME. Marine officers who attended
that first meeting later hosted (at Quantico Marine Base) a conference for
officers from all services who were interested in military ethics. Most of
those at the Quantico conference were involved in teaching military ethics at
some level. Because the Quantico
meeting was so well received, officers on the staff of the Air University,
Maxwell AFB, Alabama,
agreed to host the next conference on professional military ethics. Held in
January 1980, there were 33 officers and several civilian professors in attendence. At that meeting, a permanent
organization know as the Joint Services Conference on Professional
Ethics (JSCOPE) was formed. Colonel Malham M. Wakin of the US Air Force Academy was named the
administrator of the organization and the Department of Philosophy at USAFA
became the headquarters for JSCOPE activities. In the years that followed, many
faculty members from the United States Military Academy at West Point, led by
Colonel Anthony Hartle, also made vital contributions
to the gatherings.
Because of the meeting's inter-service charter, JSCOPE later
sought an affiliation with the National Defense University (NDU), whose
leadership encouraged and supported the effort.
After holding annual conferences at a number of locations around the United States,
JSCOPE decided to make NDU the regular location of the annual mid-winter
conference. For some time, the Proceedings of the conferences were often
published by the NDU Press.
Over the many years since its inception, JSCOPE has enjoyed
increasingly generous, volunteer support from all the service academies and
several civilian institutions. In order to accommodate its growing membership,
starting in 1999, the conference began meeting at the Springfield Hilton hotel
in Springfield, VA.
In 2005, the JSCOPE board voted to change the meeting's name to the
International Society for Military Ethics (ISME). The new name better described the varied and
eclectic character of the program's participants and made clear that the
organization had no formal ties to the military services. In 2008, we were generously
hosted by the University of San Diego, holding the conference for the first
time on the west coast.
Structure and Purpose
For years simply an informal meeting of interested parties, ISME in 2005 incorporated
as a non-profit organization. The new
structure allows ISME to more easily collect conference fees and pay its
expenses. Nevertheless, it still exists
solely in virtue of its members' commitment to professional military
ethics. ISME's goals are to:
- Provide a forum for the
discussion and exchange of ideas relating to professional military ethics.
- Foster the rigorous and
systematic analysis of military issues of ethical significance.
- Clarify the ethical norms and
related behavioral expectations which should guide and constrain the
conduct of military professionals.
- Enhance the quality of
military ethics instruction.
- Afford service commanders
informed, timely analyses of the ethical impact of military service
Topics of some previous ISME/JSCOPE
- "Professional Military
- "Teaching the Teachers
- "Ethics for
- "Institutional Practices
Which Invite Ethical Abuse"
- "A Written Code of
Ethics for the Profession of Arms"
- "Ethical Issues Associated
with Terrorism as a Mode of Warfare"
- "Are Tactics and
- "Accountability and
Fraternization, and Sex Discrimination"
- "Constabulary uses of
- "The Ethics of Military
- "Ethical Foundations of
- "Ethics and Leadership
During Organizational Change"
- "The Core Values
Movement in the Military"