We propose that the prevalent moral aversion to AWS is supported by a pair of compelling objections. First, we argue that even a sophisticated robot is not the kind of thing that is capable of replicating human moral judgment. This conclusion follows if human moral judgment is not codifiable, i.e., it cannot be captured by a list of rules. Moral judgment requires either the ability to engage in wide reflective equilibrium, the ability to perceive certain facts as moral considerations, moral (...) imagination, or the ability to have moral experiences with a particular phenomenological character. Robots cannot in principle possess these abilities, so robots cannot in principle replicate human moral judgment. If robots cannot in principle replicate human moral judgment then it is morally problematic to deploy AWS with that aim in mind. Second, we then argue that even if it is possible for a sufficiently sophisticated robot to make ‘moral decisions’ that are extensionally indistinguishable from (or better than) human moral decisions, these ‘decisions’ could not be made for the right reasons. This means that the ‘moral decisions’ made by AWS are bound to be morally deficient in at least one respect even if they are extensionally indistinguishable from human ones. Our objections to AWS support the prevalent aversion to the employment of AWS in war. They also enjoy several significant advantages over the most common objections to AWS in the literature. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
A new powerful military weapon has appeared in the skies of world and with it a new form of warfare has quickly emerged bringing with it a host of pressing ethical questions and issues. Killing By Remote Control: The Ethics of an Unmanned Military brings together some of the best scholars currently working on these questions.
In July 2020, more than 1,000 companies that advertise on social media platforms withdrew their business, citing failures of the platforms (especially Facebook) to address the proliferation of harmful content. The #StopHateForProfit movement invites reflection on an understudied topic: the ethics of boycotting by corporations. Under what conditions is corporate boycotting permissible, required, supererogatory, or forbidden? Although value-driven consumerism has generated significant recent discussion in applied ethics, that discussion has focused almost exclusively on the consumption choices of individuals. As this (...) article underscores, value-driven consumerism by business corporations complicates these issues and invites further examination. We propose principles for the ethics of boycotting by corporations, indicate how these principles relate to different CSR paradigms, and show how these insights can help assess recent instances of corporate boycotting. (shrink)
Philosophical and ethical discussions of warfare are often tied to emerging technologies and techniques. Today we are presented with what many believe is a radical shift in the nature of war-the realization of conflict in the cyber-realm, the so-called.
Killing bin Laden: A Moral Analysis is a short treatise on the possible ethical justification for the U.S. mission to kill Osama bin Laden. After rejecting the standard justifications most commonly used in support of the killing, Strawser ultimately argues that the killing was ethically permissible as an act of defensive harm on behalf of innocents. The book contends bin Laden was morally responsible for a collection of unjust threats such that he was liable to be killed. Moreover, the many (...) unique features of the bin Laden case -such as the use of pre-emptive harm and the collective agency of al-Qaeda - do not defeat that liability. The monograph also includes discussions of the apparent violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and the morally dubious celebrations of bin Laden's death, among other morally relevant issues. (shrink)
Most people believe that killing someone, while generally morally wrong, can in some cases be a permissible act. Most people similarly believe that war, while awful, can be justified. This book addresses both subjects as equal parts in a larger meditation on the ethics of harm and moral responsibility—whether in war collectively or in individual cases of self-defense—and whatever it is that lies in between the two. The book sets out by examining the moral justification for individual defensive killing and (...) then tests its application to collective war as a natural outgrowth of the former. In seeking sincere answers to these morally vexing questions, it offers a novel theory of liability attribution based upon evidence-relative norms: we should only be held morally responsible for what we could possibly know is wrong based on the evidence before us. In developing this theory of liability as it applies to war, Bounds of Defense also gives a robust apologia of what has been called as “revisionist” just war theory and charts a neo-liberal basis for just war theory grounded on the value of individual autonomy along the way. The entire book is an earnest attempt to take individual rights and responsibilities seriously in our thinking over killing and the horrors of war. (shrink)
Realism about material objects faces a variety of epistemological objections. Recently, however, some realists have offered new accounts in response to these long-standing objections; many of which seem plausible. In this paper, I raise a new objection against realism vis-à-vis how we could empirically come to know mind-independent essential properties for objects. Traditionally, realists hold kind-membership and persistence as bound together for purposes of tracing out an object’s essential existence conditions. But I propose kind-membership and persistence for objects can conceptually (...) come apart and function epistemologically distinctly from one another—in which case the usual reliance by realists on an assumption of persistence to determine kind-membership conditions is unjustified. Thus, present realist attempts to explain how empirical detection of mind-independent essential properties for objects could possibly occur inevitably results in circularity. The charge against the realist is to explain why we don’t have to first discover persistence conditions for an object before we can ascertain kind-membership conditions for an object. If no answer is forthcoming, then it seems the weight of the epistemological objection to realism is back in full force. (shrink)
In Plato’s Sophist (245e–247e) an argument against metaphysical materialism in the “battle of gods and giants” is presented which is oft the cause of consternation, primarily because it appears the characters are unfair to the materialist position. Attempts to explain it usually resort to restructuring the argument while others rearrange the Sophist entirely to rebuild the argument in a more satisfying form. I propose a different account of the argument that does not rely on a disservice to the materialist nor (...) restructuring Plato’s argument. I contend, instead, that the argument is enthymematic in nature, allowing the definitions employed to flow out of the reasoning as originally presented. Moreover, it suggests that Plato’s idealism was so deeply ingrained that modern defenses of materialism were not even live options. (shrink)