prophilosophy

Professional philosophy news

The paradox of nonlethal weapons

Fritz Allhoff (Western Michigan) writes for Slate here.

Not all weapons are designed to kill; some are just meant to cause injury. Yet under the rules of war—a somewhat haphazard collection of ethical and legal directives—we are sometimes allowed to use lethal weapons even when certain nonlethal weapons are disallowed. In short, the lethal weapons are more permissible on the battlefield. As Donald Rumsfeld once complained “in many instances, our forces are allowed to shoot somebody and kill them, but they’re not allowed to use a nonlethal riot-control agent.” This is the paradox of nonlethal weapons, and it has been around for some time. Yet as military technology becomes increasingly capable of halting an enemy without killing him, it is a situation that international law must reconsider. Isn’t less deadly better?

The Huffington Post has followed up with a 25-minute video panel discussion featuring Alhoff and four others.

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