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A Typology of Arguments about Drone Ethics

Authored by Dr. Mary Manjikian.

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The term “anti-drone” is an umbrella for a variety of different ethical arguments and concerns. Some activists are concerned with the harm done to the international system through reliance on these new weapons (such as the erosion of traditional norms governing combat), while others focus on individual morality and the ethics of the drone operator himself. Still, others consider the national values of state actors deploying drones, and others consider how drone use changes relationships between the warfighter and his adversary. Some analysts and activists treat the advent of drone warfare as a wholly new phenomenon, which cannot be compared to previous technological developments, while others disagree. Analysts also distinguish between problems caused by the existence of the technology, problems caused by the acts carried out by drones, and problems created by the activities of their human operators or the machines themselves. Different ethical arguments require different responses from military leaders, based on the type of argument and the assumptions that underlie it.

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Military Change and Transformation
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