Carlos E. Bertha, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Philosophy

United States Air Force Academy


Contact Information

Business Address:

2354 Fairchild Drive, Suite 1A45
US Air Force Academy, CO  80840
Office phone: (719) 333-8655

Academic Credentials

Ph.D., Philosophy, University of South Florida, August 2000.
Dissertation title: “Honor and Honors: An Ethical Study of Military Duty and its Relationship to the Practice of Awarding Medals.” 
Director: Peter A. French

Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, University of South Florida, April 1989

Areas of Specialization


Professional and applied ethics (especially engineering and military ethics), ethical theory, and symbolic logic

Areas of Competence


Social and political philosophy, philosophy of science, critical thinking

Scholarly Activities


Peer-reviewed Scholarly Publications

“The Socratic Durkheim,” coauthored with Stephen Turner, in Using the Elementary Forms in Teaching, Terry Godlove, ed., American Academy of Religion, Teaching Religious Studies Series, Oxford University Press, 2004

“Teaching Military Ethics to ROTC Cadets” in Academic Exchange Quarterly, Volume 8, Issue 2, Summer 2004

“Obeying an Outlaw Order” in Globalism and the Obsolescence of the State, Yeager Hudson, ed. (Studies in Social and Political Theory Series, Number 20), Edwin Mellen Press, 1999

Other Scholarly Publications

“The Moral Responsibility of Sustainable Development” to Professional Engineer Magazine, On Ethics feature, Jan/Feb 2013

“Aristotle and Engineering Ethics Education” in Professional Engineer Magazine, On Ethics feature, June 2009

“The AHA Problems” in Philosophy of Mathematics Education Journal, Number 12, November 1999

“Teaching Seminar Report” in The Newsletter of the American Association of Philosophy Teachers, Volume 22, Number 1, Philosophy Documentation Center, Spring/Summer 1999

Book Review of Research Ethics (Indiana University Press, 1995), in Science and Engineering Ethics, Opragen Publications, Volume 2, Number 1, January 1996

Scholarly Presentations


“Ethics in Difficult Situations” webinar for the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), April 2013

“Ethics of Sustainable Development” regional meeting for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Colorado Springs, CO, November 2012

“Ethics of Sustainable Development” webinar for NSPE, November 2012

“A Primer for Engineering Philosophical Ethics” webinar for NSPE, April 2012

“Civilian Contractors: A New Direction for the Chaplaincy?” International Society of Military Ethics Conference (ISME), San Diego, CA, January 2012

“Ethical Engineering: Situations in Sustainability,” opening presentation, ASCE Conference, Memphis, TN, October 2011

“Military Engineering Ethics: Afghanistan,” ASCE Student Chapter Assembly, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, September 2011

Engineering Ethics Graduate Seminar for KSU’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, co-taught with Steve Starrett, September 2011

“Panel: Religion, Respect and Global Security,” National Character and Leadership Symposium, United States Air Force Academy, CO, February 2011

“How to Teach Engineering Ethics with Case Studies,” American Society of Engineering Educations (ASEE) National Conference, Louisville, KY, June 2010

“Military Engineering Ethics,” invited lecture at Texas A&M, College Station, TX, April 2010

“Military Engineering Ethics,” Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE) Conference, Cincinnati, OH, March 2010

“Military Engineering Ethics and Sustainable Development: Afghanistan as a Tough Example,” Wittenberg University Philosophy Colloquium, Springfield, OH, March 2010

“Engineering Ethics Education and Sustainable Development,” Engineering, Social Justice and Sustainable Development Workshop, National Academy of Engineering, Washington DC, October 2008

“Engineering Ethics: Improving Pedagogical Methods,” American Society of Mechanical Engineers International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, Chicago, IL, November 2006

“Teaching Engineering Ethics,” ASEE, Mid-Atlantic Section Spring Conference, Brooklyn, NY, April 2006

“How to Teach Ethics in Engineering,” ASEE, Rocky Mountain Section Annual Meeting, US Air Force Academy, CO, April 2006

“Writing Across the Academy,” workshop sponsored by the Center for Educational Excellence and the USAFA Writing Center, US Air Force Academy, CO, November 2005

“Is Blowing the Whistle Supererogatory?” 4th Conference on Ethics and Social Responsibility in Engineering and Technology, Loyola Marymount, Los Angeles, CA, June 2005

“Fighting Fideism,” James Randi Educational Foundation Conference, Las Vegas, NV, January 2005

“Separation of Church and State and Foreign Policy,” REALIA Conference, Providence, RI, August 2004

“The Obligation Theory of Medals,” Department of Philosophy Colloquia Series, United States Air Force Academy, CO, February 2004

“Legitimidad y conflicto, ¿qué cuenta como legítimo?” (Legitimacy and Conflict: What Counts as Legitimate?), The International Social Theory Consortium, Tampa Bay, FL, presented in Spanish, May 2003

“US Northern Command and the Posse Comitatus Act,” Joint Services Conference on Professional Ethics (JSCOPE), Washington DC, January 2003

“Argumentative Writing,” Writing Center’s Lecture Series, US Air Force Academy, CO, September 2001

“The Domestic Role of the National Guard and Reserves,” with Brigadier General Harold Nevin, JSCOPE, Washington DC, January 2001

“Teaching Ethics to ROTC Cadets,” JSCOPE, Washington DC, January 2000

“Principles of Military Ethics,” guest speaker for Air Force ROTC class, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, April 1999

“The Heroism of Long-term Military Service,” JSCOPE, Washington DC, January 1999

“The Value of Medals,” On Top of the World Philosophy Club Lecture Series, Clearwater, FL, November 1998

“Mathematics during the Logical Positivism Era,” Mathematics Honor Society Colloquia Series, USF, Tampa, FL, November 1998

“Heroism and Military Duty,” 15th North American Society for Social Philosophy Conference (NASSP), North Adams College, MA, August 1998

“Military Heroism,” The Ethics Center Lecture Series, USF, St Petersburg, FL, November 1997

“The Law of Land Warfare,” guest speaker for Army ROTC class, USF, Tampa, FL, October 1997

“Obeying an Unlawful Order,” 14th NASSP Conference, Kingston, Canada, July 1997

“Is Conscientious Objection Tenable?” Philosophy Graduate Student Organization Colloquia Series, USF, Tampa, FL, February 1997

Other Scholarly Work


Reviewer for that National Academies’ report, Emerging and Readily Available Technologies and National Security: A Framework for Addressing Ethical, Legal and Societal Issues, from the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) of the National Research Council, February 2013

Technical Advisor for the Anti-Corruption Education and Training initiative, an activity sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers, December 2006 to November 2008

Commentator for Global e-discussion forum entitled “Business Action on Combating Corruption: Setting One's Own Standards,” hosted by the World Bank Institute, 1-7 October 2007

Moderator for “Religion as Setting in Writing,” Pikes Peak Writers World-Building workshop, Colorado Springs, CO, November 2005

“DoD 101” and “NORAD/NORTHCOM Bi-Command Briefing” Department of Philosophy Colloquia Series, United States Air Force Academy, CO, August 2005

“Military Ethics: A Primer,” NORAD and US Space Command Army Call, Peterson Air Force Base, CO, May 2002

Served as the External Reviewer for a Doctoral Dissertation, candidate: John Janzekovic, “Humanitarian Obligation: The Use of Military Intervention to Counter Severe Human Rights Abuses,” University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia, Spring 2001

Manuscript reviewer for the Journal of Military Ethics, Journal of Social Philosophy, and Social Philosophy Today

Commentator for MyLai Remembered (BBC Movie), The Ethics Center “Night at the Movies” Series, USF, St Petersburg, FL, November 1997

Moderator at the Ethics and Pop-Culture Conference, Clearwater, FL, April 1997

Non-Academic Publications

“Why Chaplains Should be Contracted, Not Commissioned,” Free Inquiry, Apr-May 2013

“The Right to Religious Expression at the US Air Force Academy,” The Humanist, Sep-Oct 2007

“¿Cómo puede ser una conversación necesaria e inútil al mismo tiempo?” Pensar, Jul-Sep 2006


Non-Academic Presentations

“Fideism and Skepticism,” Skepticamp hosted by the Pikes Peak Skeptics Society, Colorado Springs, CO, August 2011

“Critical Thinking and Religious Belief,” Pikes Peak Skeptics Society lecture series on Critical Thinking, Colorado Springs, CO, June 2011

“Darwin Day: A Discussion about Evolution” panel discussion hosted by the USAFA Cadet Freethinkers group, USAFA, CO, February 2011

“Where do Values Come From?” panel discussion hosted by the USAFA Cadet Interfaith Council, USAFA, CO, January 2011

 “Atheists in Foxholes,” Atheist Alliance International Convention, Long Beach, CA, October 2008

“Ethics and War,” Kiwanis International Club Meeting, Manitou Springs Chapter, Manitou Springs, CO, May 2006

“Fideism Revealed,” American Humanist Association Conference, Albuquerque, NM, May 2005

“Religion and Just War Theory,” Atheist Alliance International Convention, Los Angeles, CA, March 2005

“On the Necessity and Futility of Conversations about the Existence of God,” Atheist Alliance International Convention, Colorado Springs, CO, April 2004

“Conversations about God,” Colorado Springs Freethinkers Monthly Meeting, Colorado Springs, CO, February 2004

Teaching Activities


Courses at USAFA

Ethics (PHIL 310, Corse Director): Prepared and gave lectures, wrote, administered and graded tests, evaluated critical essays, arranged guest lectures and used audiovisual materials.  Major subjects covered: moral reasoning, virtue theory, deontology, utilitarianism, relativism, casuistry, military ethics and professionalism.

War, Morality and the Military Profession (PHIL 311): Took the military ethics portion of the Ethics course and expanded it to an entire semester.  Used Michael Walzer’s Just and Unjust Wars as the main text.

Philosophy of Science (PHIL 330, Course Director): Surveyed the standard view of science, reactions to it, and covered social and cultural aspects of the practice of science.  Other topics included the limits of scientific knowledge, pseudoscience, and ethics in science.

Applied Reasoning (PHIL 360): Covered critical thinking, informal fallacies, categorical and propositional logic, and the application of these skills to literature, current events and scholarly publication.

Introduction to Symbolic Logic (PHIL 370. Course Director): In depth coverage of categorical, propositional and quantificational logic. Cursory treatment of modal logic.  Some attention to informal logic.

Independent Studies (PHIL 499): One-on-one directed studies with cadets. Topics include Symbolic Logic, Modal Logic, and Metaphysics.

Physics (PHY 110 – Honors sections): I taught four blocks of instruction introducing students to basic concepts and themes in philosophy of science. Spring 2011.

Latin American Drug Trade (FAS 495L): part of a team of instructors who taught a course about various aspects of the Latin American drug trade.  I taught the ethics block and contributed to the pop culture portion. Fall 2006.

Courses at the University of South Florida

Military Ethics. Covered historical overview of military ethics, just war theory, and a wide range of applied ethical dilemmas related to military life and service.  I proposed, designed and implemented this course, which was new to USF.  This was a Distance and Technology-Mediated Learning (DTML) class, broadcast via satellite to USF’s remote campuses.

Introduction to Philosophy.  Covered Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, and Mill's Utilitarianism in some detail. Although ethics was the common thread, I introduced a variety of philosophical topics as the course progressed.

Critical Thinking. Covered informal fallacies, formal logic, and critical thinking methods in the context of the investigation of paranormal claims. Placed special emphasis on reading comprehension and clear exposition of ideas in written form.

Introduction to Formal Logic. Introduced informal fallacies and covered categorical, propositional, and quantificational logic.

Political Philosophy and Philosophy of Mind. Teaching Assistant. Attended lectures, served as the student’s point of contact for problems, coordinated audiovisual materials, and graded essays, reflection papers and tests.

Teaching Awards and Fellowships

Outstanding Academy Educator Award, USAFA, academic year 2003 – 2004

Graduate Assistantship, Philosophy Department, USF, Fall 1996 to Spring 2000

American Philosophical Association Scholarship ($500 stipend) to attend American Association of Philosophy Teachers Seminar on Teaching Philosophy, July 1998

Philosophy Department’s nominee for the Provost’s Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Student, USF, March 1998

Frances Elvidge Graduate Fellowship in Ethics, The Ethics Center, USF, St Petersburg Campus, Fall 1997 and Spring 1998

Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society Scholarship ($500 award), November 1997


Service Activities


To the Nation:

More than 20 years of service as a US Government employee.  This time reflects total number of years in civil service, including 1985 – 1993, when I served as a Mechanical Engineer (up to GS-11) at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, Savannah, Georgia.

More than 24 years of service in the South Carolina Army National Guard, Florida Army National Guard, and now United States Army Reserves. Lieutenant Colonel. Current assignment: Instructor, Command and General Staff Officers College (CGSOC).  Military biography available upon request.

To the United States Air Force Academy:

Serve as Faculty Advisor for the USAFA Cadet Freethinkers Club since Spring 2006

Member of the USAFA Faculty Council since Fall 2005

Associate Air Officer Commanding for Cadet Squadron 06, academic year 2004/05

Cadre member, Officer Development System (ODS) implementation, Spring 2004

USAFA Cadet Judo Club Officer-In-Charge, 2003 thru 2007

USAFA Los Padrinos Club Officer-In-Charge, academic year 2004/05

Facilitator for various seminars led by USAFA’s Center for Character and Leadership Development


To the Dean of Faculty:

Representative for the USAFA Dean of Faculty to the “Religious Respect Conference,” hosted by USAFA November 2010

Team member of “Critical Thinking/Decision Making” USAFA Outcomes team, Fall 2010

Member of the hiring committee for civilian instructor position for the Department of Foreign Languages, Spring 2013 and Spring 2007

Member of “Creating Academically Rich Environments” (CARE) working group, for evaluating the “Frame and Resolve Ill-Defined Problems” learning objective, Fall 2005

Writing Center Tutor, Fall 2001-2010

Escort officer for the USAFA International Exchange Program.  Took eight cadets to visit the Colombian Air Force Academy (during spring break, 2001 and 2004), involved in the Latin American Studies Group and act as host or translator for visiting delegations from time to time

Judge for the USAFA Forensics Classic, 2008-2010


To the Department of Philosophy:

Department Budget Officer, Approving Official for Government Purchase Card (GPC) and Defense Travel System (DTS) and Cost Center Manager since Fall 2003

Scheduling Coordinator, action officer for all DFR matters such as course section assignments, classroom allocations, final exams scheduling, etc., 2001-2006

Department Faculty Research Coordinator, since 2008

Project Officer, USAFA Summer Scientific Seminar program, since 2004

Ethics Bowl Team Coach.  Led preparation meetings and discussion periods, served as Officer Representative for the 5-cadet delegation that participated in the annual “Ethics Bowl tournament,” sponsored by the Association of Professional and Practical Ethics





Speak, read and write Spanish, English and Hungarian

Professional Affiliations


American Society for Engineering Education

Association for Practical and Professional Ethics

Society of American Military Engineers

Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, inducted November 1995

Engineer in Training (EIT), 1989

Military Education


Advanced Operations and Warfighting Course (AOWC), Ft Dix, NJ, July 2007

Intermediate Level Education (ILE), Ft Hunter-Liggett, CA, June 2005 – June 2006

Combined Arms and Services Staff School, Tampa, FL, November 1998 – July 1999

Field Artillery Officer Advanced Course (resident), Fort Sill, OK, July – December 1993

Engineer Officer Basic Course, Fort Belvoir, VA, July – December 1989


Professional References

Col James Cook, Ph.D.  Head and Professor, Philosophy Department, United States Air Force Academy.  (719) 333-4070

Stephen Turner, Ph.D.  Distinguished Research Professor, Philosophy Department, University of South Florida, and member of dissertation committee. (813) 974-2454

Current as of: 1 September 2013