Ian Langford - The moral heuristic

Running time
1 min 28 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Your parents give you morals, and your profession teaches you ethics. And I think as a baseline in terms of how you perceive the world, how you make judgements, how you exercise your own temperament and your own agency and doing what's right, in the context that there are versions of right and there is also wrong. It's not about not being forgiven for making mistakes.

Being able to make mistakes is what is fundamental to being human. But also, I think, operating in the context of military service which means, again, you're obligated to think about the higher purpose of what you do. So, you know, my mum and dad taught me morals, here's what's right, here's what's wrong. And, you know, the service teaches you ethics in the context of that moral heuristic. And so this is about, you know, it is wrong to kill but in the context of military service where armed violence is intrinsic to what you do on behalf of the state, there are occasions where there is an exception to that.

And ethics, I think, is what gives us the ability to distinguish right from wrong when faced with wrong and wrong as an option. And I think, again, that's really important and what makes professional armies responsible in terms of what they do, relative to other military forces that don't subscribe to the same values.

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