Journal of Military Ethics 9 (4):342-368 (2010)
|Abstract||A variety of ethical objections have been raised against the military employment of uninhabited aerial vehicles (UAVs, drones). Some of these objections are technological concerns over UAVs abilities’ to function on par with their inhabited counterparts. This paper sets such concerns aside and instead focuses on supposed objections to the use of UAVs in principle. I examine several such objections currently on offer and show them all to be wanting. Indeed, I argue that we have a duty to protect an agent engaged in a justified act from harm to the greatest extent possible, so long as that protection does not interfere with the agent's ability to act justly. UAVs afford precisely such protection. Therefore, we are obligated to employ UAV weapon systems if it can be shown that their use does not significantly reduce a warfighter's operational capability. Of course, if a given military action is unjustified to begin with, then carrying out that act via UAVs is wrong, just as it would be with any weapon. But the point of this paper is to show that there is nothing wrong in principle with using a UAV and that, other things being equal, using such technology is, in fact, obligatory.|
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