Wilson Center Experts

Nancy Sherman

Public Policy Scholar
United States Studies

Expertise:
Security and Defense
;
North America
;
United States
Affiliation:
University Professor; Professor of Philosophy, Georgetown University
Wilson Center Project(s):
"Resilience After War"
Term:
Sep 06, 2011
-
Aug 24, 2012

Nancy Sherman holds a B.A. magna cum laude with honors in Philosophy from Bryn Mawr College, an M. Litt. in philosophy from the University of Edinburgh, and a Ph.D. from Harvard in moral philosophy (1981), where she received Harvard's George Plympton Adams' Prize (1982) for the most distinguished Ph.D. thesis in the subject area of History of Philosophy.

Nancy served as the Inaugural Holder of the Distinguished Chair in Ethics for the U.S. Navy from January 1997 to June 1999. Shortly afterwards, she realized that in order to more clearly understand the ethical issues of the navy, she needed the framework of a "deep" moral psychology, and so she sought out research training in psychoanalysis at the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute. After five years, she completed that training, with certification from the American Psychoanalytic Association, as well as the Washington Institute's Gary O. Morris prize for the most distinguished essay (1999).

Nany's current work focuses on the moral psychology of soldiering. She is particularly interested in the moral emotions of being a warrior - the nature of a soldier's fear, anger, grief, regret, remorse, pride, shame, and revenge. Nancy was appointed University Professor at Georgetown in 2001,and before that was an assistant and associate professor of philosophy at Yale.
 

Major Publications

Previous Terms at the Wilson Center:
Fellow, 2006-2007, "The War Within: Inside the Hearts, Minds, and Souls of Our Soldiers Project Summary:This book (under contract with Norton Press) is about the moral and emotional transition from civilian to soldier and back to civilian again. In more concrete terms, it is about learning to kill, killing, and leaving killing behind. The battlefield I explore is the mind, or the psyche of the soldier. And my specific interests are the conflicts and resolutions that arise in moving from peacetime to war and back again. Studies on war trauma, or post-traumatic stress disorder, document clinically and scientifically the psychological hardship of crossing the borders of peace and war. But what that research leaves to the side, indeed what all research has overlooked, are healthy emotional and moral responses to the challenge of war. I argue that we need to better understand the moral psychology of soldiering, if we are to responsibly send our sons and daughters to war.

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