Critical Military Epistemology: Designing Reflexivity into Military Curricula

Christopher Paparone


The author recommends the discipline of the Sociology of Knowledge as an educative underpinning to enhance reflexivity in military practice. The essay develops four postmodern propositions for designing reflexivity into military curricula:

1. That military epistemology is an outgrowth of an historic socialization process;

2. That using Searle’s fact continuum, we can reveal the subjectivity of military knowledge by exposing the objectivation of socially constructed facts;

3. That US military scientism is an ideology, hence, a potential social hazard for those who criticize scientism as the underlying logic of practice; and,

4. Critical Military Epistemology (CME), based in the other three propositions, is one educative approach which will enhance reflexivity, providing a plurality of underlying logics of practice. 

The author offers recommendations for a CME approach, advocating a plurality of onto-epistemological assumptions, to include critically studying military history as a history of military sensemaking, exposing practitioners to the assumptions of SoK, reading the seminal work of Donald A. Schön, and applying CME to promote interdisciplinary awareness. The essay concludes that imbedding CME philosophy in curricula designs will enhance tacit knowledge, emancipatory thinking, reframing, and critical reflexivity in the pursuit of novel underlying logics of practice.

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.