Armed Drone Warfare

Philosophy in the Contemporary World 23 (2):71-81 (2016)
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The United States is now relying on Reaper and Predator drone strikes as its primary strategy in the continuing “war on terrorism.” This paper argues for the rational scrutiny drone warfare has not yet received. Rather than a Just War critique, my focus is on the rhetoric used to justify drone warfare as the technologically most efficient and militarily appropriate response to terrorist threats. This rationalizing rhetoric evokes mythical claims about American exceptionalism. Myths in turn trigger linguistic frames that have the effect of subverting rational thinking about the ethical uses of technology and the best ways of defending America from terrorists. I conclude by noting the seriousness of this investigation for the present debate over armed drone warfare, for—given the reasons I present—rather than a long-term reduction in the likelihood of terrorists strikes, the U.S.’s reliance on armed drones strikes threatens to institutionalize terrorism as the status quo for the foreseeable future.



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Robert Paul Churchill
George Washington University

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