Professional philosophy news

More on drone warfare

John Kaag (UMass-Lowell) and Sarah Kreps (Government, Cornell) write on the moral hazards of drone warfare for the NY Times here. In it, they liken drone warfare to finding the ring of Gyges, and argue that

This issue has all the hallmarks of what economists and philosophers call a “moral hazard” — a situation in which greater risks are taken by individuals who are able to avoid shouldering the cost associated with these risks.  It thus seems wise, if not convenient, to underscore several ethical points if we are to avoid our own “Gyges moment.”

First, we might remember Marx’s comment that “the windmill gives you a society with the feudal lord; the steam engine gives you one with the industrial capitalist.” And precision guided munitions and drones give you a society with perpetual asymmetric wars.

Second, assassination and targeted killings have always been in the repertoires of military planners, but never in the history of warfare have they been so cheap and easy…

Third, the impressive expediency and accuracy in drone targeting may also allow policymakers and strategists to become lax in their moral decision-making about who exactly should be targeted…



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