Moral Predators: The Duty to Employ Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles

Journal of Military Ethics 9 (4):342-368 (2010)
  Copy   BIBTEX

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.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 74,247

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Predators or Ploughshares? Arms Control of Robotic Weapons.Robert Sparrow - 2009 - IEEE Technology and Society 28 (1):25-29.
A Defense of Acting From Duty.Diane Jeske - 1998 - Journal of Value Inquiry 32 (1):61–74.
Defending the Right To Do Wrong.Ori J. Herstein - 2012 - Law and Philosophy 31 (3):343-365.
The Alleged Moral Repugnance of Acting From Duty.Marcia Baron - 1984 - Journal of Philosophy 81 (4):197-220.
A Duty to Adopt?Daniel Friedrich - 2013 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 30 (1):25-39.
Acting with Feeling From Duty.Julie Tannenbaum - 2002 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 5 (3):321-337.
The Relation of Moral Worth to the Good Will in Kant’s Ethics.Walter E. Schaller - 1992 - Journal of Philosophical Research 17:351-382.
Intentions and Consequences in Military Ethics.Peter Olsthoorn - 2011 - Journal of Military Ethics 10 (2):81-93.
A Kantian Moral Duty for the Soon-to-Be Demented to Commit Suicide.Dennis R. Cooley - 2007 - American Journal of Bioethics 7 (6):37 – 44.
Animals, Predators, the Right to Life, and the Duty to Save Lives.Aaron Simmons - 2009 - Ethics and the Environment 14 (1):pp. 15-27.

Analytics

Added to PP
2012-06-01

Downloads
247 (#47,823)

6 months
10 (#79,801)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Bradley Strawser
Naval Postgraduate School

Citations of this work

Just War and Robots’ Killings.Thomas W. Simpson & Vincent C. Müller - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (263):302-22.
The Morality of Autonomous Robots.Aaron M. Johnson & Sidney Axinn - 2013 - Journal of Military Ethics 12 (2):129 - 141.

View all 47 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Killer Robots.Robert Sparrow - 2007 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 24 (1):62–77.
The Ethics of Killing in War.Jeff McMahan - 2004 - Ethics 114 (4):693-733.
The Ethics of Killing in War.Jeff McMahan - 2006 - Philosophia 34 (1):693-733.
The Responsibility Dilemma for Killing in War: A Review Essay.Seth Lazar - 2010 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 38 (2):180-213.

View all 20 references / Add more references