Promoting the moral sensitivity of police and military personnel
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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To make good decisions, people must be able to identify the ethical features of a situation, i.e., to notice when and how the welfare of others and ethical values are at stake. In the work of military and law enforcement officers, moral sensitivity is of special importance, due to an especially stressful working environment and the severe consequences that a blindness to moral features may have for diverse parties. As we argue, morally sensitive people overcome three blinders that may lead others to ignore moral aspects in their decision making: Cognitive overload, psychological biases, and moral disengagement. Based on these challenges, we suggest four general learning outcomes for the training of moral sensitivity: (1) an empathic concern for relevant groups, (2) an awareness for one’s vulnerability to biases and stress, (3) moral schemas for the evaluation of risky situations, and (4) a sensitivity to attitudes of moral disengagement. To achieve the relevant learning outcomes in the ethics training of military and police personnel, we offer indicative training examples and references.