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Annual Dinner Honors Ethics Essay Award Winners

Posted on: September 16, 2013 08:00 EDT by Midshipman 2nd Class Elizabeth Shields

More than 50 second class Naval Academy Midshipmen joined Superintendent Vice Adm. Michael H. Miller for a special meal honoring the midshipmen who participated in the semiannual Vice Admiral William P. Lawrence Ethics Essay Competition.

Midshipman 2nd Class Brian Mihaljevich won the fall semester competition with his essay “Cyberspace and Civilians: How are the two interconnected?” The winner for the spring semester was Midshipman 2nd Andrew Sullivan for his essay “Extending the Arm of War: An Ethical Examination of Targeted Killing.”

Both Midshipmen received a copy of Admiral Lawrence’s biography “Tennessee Patriot,” a plaque commemorating the achievement, and a small stipend. 

The essay finalists include:  Midshipmen 2nd Class Andrew Jones, Joshua Babb, Ashton McCombs, Kyle Waldorf, John McAuliffe, Ian Eversman, and Michael Segalla.

Each semester, the Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership organizes a competition to select the outstanding ethics essay written in the academy's core ethics course for third class midshipmen, “Ethics and Moral Reasoning for the Naval Leader.” Members of the Ethics, Leadership and Law faculty choose 4-6 finalists per semester and send those essays to readers at outside institutions to review and rank. The rankings determine a winner for each academic term.

Among the topics midshipmen wrote about were the ethics of war in cyber space, the obligations of military service, targeted killing, and Syrian intervention.

Retired Vice Adm. William R. Burke (USNA 1978), former deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems and guest speaker at the awards dinner, spoke about the ethical dilemmas junior officers face every day in the fleet and encouraged careful thought and rehearsal of similar scenarios.

He said the hardest choices involve conflicts in things that are “rooted in our core values.”

We are not always confronted with an easy choice between right and wrong. The hardest challenge comes when the choice at hand is a “Right vs. Right” dilemma, said Burke.

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