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Armed Drones and the Ethics of War

This book assesses the ethical implications of using armed unmanned aerial vehicles (so-called 'hunter-killer drones'), such as the Predator and Reaper, in contemporary conflicts such as Afghanistan and Yemen. The book's analysis focuses on the United States, which has recently engaged in the most extensive and conspicuous use of this technology (in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia), although the lessons to be drawn from US experience are applicable to any other country that uses or seeks to use armed drones. The two main themes of the book are moral permissibility and moral motivation. The first concerns the circumstances under which armed drones may and should be used. In addressing the second theme, the book inquires into whether or how a mode of killing that entails no physical risk to the killer can be morally distinguished from other, non-warlike (e.g. law enforcement or murderous) forms of violence. Both themes necessarily touch upon some sociological considerations: how are drones and drone operators regarded within the military profession, and how does drone technology affect civilian perceptions of war and warriors? The book's overall objectives are to explain how and why armed drones are used, to assess the moral motivations and ethical dilemmas associated with their use, and to suggest possible implications for war and military ethics of a future shift from remotely-controlled to autonomous drones. Unlike existing books that discuss military robotics, mostly from a technical and/or operational perspective, this book is focused exclusively on drones and employs an ethical framework of analysis. Concepts within the Just War tradition (comprised of jus ad bellum and jus in bello principles) are considered alongside empirical data available on the public record. The book is timely because of recently increasing interest on the part of some governments in the military and counterterrorism opportunities that armed drones afford. To date, the amount of ethics-oriented scholarship and policymaking on drones has not been commensurate with either the pace of technological advancement or the degree of financial and operational commitment to unmanned airpower. This book will be of much interest to students of the ethics of war, airpower, counter-terrorism, strategic studies and security studies in general.
Product Details

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Post-heroic war and armed drones 3. Drones and the war threshold 4. Conducting drone warfare: the case of Pakistan 5. Radical asymmetry and the moral equality of combatants 6. Drone operators and the warrior ethos 7. Autonomous drones and post-human war 8. Conclusion

About the Author

Christian Enemark is a Reader in the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth University.

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