The Moral of Drones

Topics: Kill, Morality, Ethics Pages: 5 (1313 words) Published: November 19, 2014
Yu Chen
Professor Gaines
ENGL 100
The Moral of Drones
Bradley Jay Strawser’s "The morality of drone warfare revisited" discusses his argument in support of using drones. The audience is the government. His thesis is that drone strikes may cause less collateral damage than bombing, but that is not an argument for current US targeted killing policy. Mark LeVine’s “When philosophers join the kill chain” discusses the negative side of drones. The audience is the scholars. His thesis is that the most vehement debates on the use of force by the US surround attacks by remotely-piloted drone aircraft. These sources are arguing about should people support of using drones or should people oppose of using drones.

“The morality of drone warfare revisited” begins by explaining that it is necessary to separate US government policy from the broader moral question of killing by aerial robots. “The policy question deserves vigorous debate by legal scholars, policy experts, and diplomats” (Strawser). The moral question posed by this new form of remote warfare is more abstract and has only recently begun to receive critical examination by philosophers and ethicists. Then Strawser talks about the 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. 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” (Strawser). Strawser says that some people think war is never justified under any circumstances. But he believes in some cases and under certain conditions, war can be justified. If the conditions of just war exist, it's worth exploring whether certain weapons pose special moral problems, or have potential moral advantages, over alternative weapons. As a result, the drones have the potential for tremendous moral improvement over the aerial bombardments of earlier eras.

At the beginning of the article, Strawser differentiates the government policy and the moral question of drones. He believes the policy question can be solved by the debate, but the moral question is more complex. Strawser says the drones can be a morally preferable weapon of war because it is more precise than other weapons that greatly reduces the risk of killing innocent people and also can protect their operators better. Some argue that drones face "in principle" moral problems regardless of the justice of the cause for which they are used. But Strawser thinks that these serious concerns do not override the moral demand to be as discriminate as possible in carrying out an otherwise justified killing. And, moreover, if the mission is just, it is better if those carrying it out do not have to be killed in accomplishing it. At the end of the article, Strawser says the drones is much more moral than the aerial bombardments. That is true because the bombers are the machine that will indiscriminately kill anyone at the target area, but the drones can accurately hit the target without hurt innocent people. Thus, the drones are the moral weapon that people should support for using it.

At the beginning of “When philosophers join the kill chain”, LeVine says that violence cannot be understood or judged except in its relation to law and justice. “The use of drones has caused an uproar not just in countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and the occupied territories, where they are routinely used to kill suspected militants, but also among ethicists and the international legal community” (LeVine). Then he talks about Strawser’s “Moral Predators: The Duty to Employ Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles”, in which he details his argument in support of using drones. Strawser’s argument is that the use of drones is ethical, both because they reduce the...

Cited: Bradley Strawser, "The morality of drone warfare revisited" (2012) Cost of War, accessed
6 August 2012, available at:; Internet.
Mark LeVine, "When philosophers join the kill chain" (2012) War, Drones, and Justice, accessed 8 August 2012, available at:; Internet.
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