Remote weaponry: The ethical implications

Journal of Applied Philosophy 25 (2):121–133 (2008)
The nature of warfare is changing. Increasingly, developments in military technology are removing soldiers from the battlefield, enabling war to be waged from afar. Bombs can be dropped from unmanned drones flying above the range of retaliation. Missiles can be launched, at minimal cost, from ships 200 miles to sea. Micro Air Vehicles, or 'WASPS', will soon be able to lethally attack enemy soldiers. Though still in the developmental stage, progress is rapidly being made towards autonomous weaponry capable of selecting, pursuing, and destroying targets without the necessity for human instruction. These developments have a profound — and as yet under-analysed — impact on just war theory. I argue that a state under attack from remote weaponry is unable to respond in the traditional, just war sanctioned, method of targeting combatants on the battlefield. This restriction of options potentially creates a situation whereby a state is either coerced into surrender, or it must transgress civilian immunity. Just war theory in conditions of remote warfare therefore either serves the interests of the technologically advanced by demanding the surrender of targeted states, or else it becomes redundant.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1468-5930.2008.00400.x
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,463
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Robert Sparrow (2007). Killer Robots. Journal of Applied Philosophy 24 (1):62–77.
Joel Feinberg (1968). Collective Responsibility. Journal of Philosophy 65 (21):674-688.
Jeff McMahan (1994). Innocence, Self-Defense and Killing in War. Journal of Political Philosophy 2 (3):193–221.

View all 9 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

101 ( #46,166 of 1,925,539 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

5 ( #187,179 of 1,925,539 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.