The moral case against drones
Posted on August 8, 2012
Earlier in the week I posted about 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.
As one would expect, Strawser’s arguments have drawn harsh critiques. Here are two worth reading.
Salon writer Murtaza Hussain:
Drones are thus not just a new weapon with which to fight conventional wars; they represent a sea change in the way conflicts in general are approached. Low-cost, low-risk killing will mean fewer questions and less scrutiny and ever higher body counts as the number of drones in the air continues to increase exponentially. The real ethical obligation is to remain vigilant against morally cretinous arguments such as the one put forth by Strawser and to fight against the normalization of a new, dangerous and in many respects fundamentally immoral form of warfare. That there is “no downside,” as Strawser claims, is only from the perspective of the military establishment he is a mouthpiece for; for the rest of us the downside is very real.
And now, at least one philosopher, Bradley Jay Strawser, has taken up the challenge of offering a viable justification for the use of drones. A recent hire at the Naval Postgraduate School, his arguments have caused enough of a stir to warrant a profile and opinion piece in the Guardian. Strawser now claims that the Guardian profile in fact misrepresented some of his views; but after reading two of his published papers on the subject, the profile in fact underplays the glaring problems in his arguments. When applied to US policy more broadly, they reveal just how far into a moral and ethical quagmire the United States has sunk under the Bush and Obama administrations.