Yesterday I posted about a feature article on Bradley Strawser, a politically liberal philosophy professor who not only defends the use of unmanned drones in warfare, but also makes the case that the use of drones is moral. 

It turns out Strawser was not entirely happy with how the article represented his views, so The Guardian gave him an opportunity to make the case for drones in his own words. Here’s what he had to say:

My view is this: drones can be a morally preferable weapon of war if they are capable of being more discriminate than other weapons that are less precise and expose their operators to greater risk. Of course, killing is lamentable at any time or place, be it in war or any context. But if a military action is morally justified, we are also morally bound to ensure that it is carried out with as little harm to innocent people as possible.

The best empirical evidence suggests that drones are more precise, result in fewer unintended deaths of civilian bystanders, and better protect their operators from risk than other weapons, such as manned aircraft, carrying out similar missions. Other things being equal, then, drones should be used in place of other less accurate and riskier weapons. But they should be used only for morally justified missions, in pursuit of a just cause.

Thus, my claim about drones is entirely conditional: they should be used only if the mission is just. As with all conditional claims, if the antecedent is false, then the entire claim is invalidated. In this case, if the current US policy being carried out by drones is unjust and wrong, then, of course, such drone use is morally wrong, even if it causes less harm than the use of some other weapon would.

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