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Drones and the Future of Armed ConflictEthical, Legal, and Strategic Implications$
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David Cortright, Rachel Fairhurst, and Kristen Wall

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226258058

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226258195.001.0001

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The Morality of “Drone Warfare”

The Morality of “Drone Warfare”

Chapter:
(p.24) Chapter Two The Morality of “Drone Warfare”
Source:
Drones and the Future of Armed Conflict
Author(s):

Jennifer M. Welsh

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226258195.003.0002

This chapter examines the ethical questions surrounding US targeted killing policy. Because drone weapons reduce the costs and risks of using force, they have the potential to alter the assessment of ‘last resort’ as an ethical criterion for the resort to force. The judgment of whether targeted killing is ethically permissible in a particular setting depends upon a precise differentiation between the use of force in wartime and the use of force outside the framework of armed conflict. In the latter circumstance, significant constraints regarding the principles of imminence and necessity limit the permissible use of force. The secretive use of drones weakens the ability of liberal democracies to control the use of armed force and has potentially detrimental psychological and moral impacts on drone operators.

Keywords:   targeted killing, ethics, agent relative, Just War Theory, imminence, last resort, necessity

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