Sunday, September 16, 2012

Kaag and Kreps OpEd in CHE

This week the Chronicle of Higher Education had an OpEd by John Kaag and Sara Kreps on drone warfare. It's behind a paywall, so you can't find it, though it seems to be a sequel to their NY Times blog post . But the upshot is that military drones are morally problematic. I really didn't understand the arguments, but I'll paraphrase them here for you as best I can: "When it comes to war, if its easy, its probably not moral." Here's why.
(1) Easy actions become habitual. Habitual actions are not amenable to the way we must make moral decisions.
(2) If it is easy, you must be oppressing someone.
(3) Self-interested actions are easiest to accomplish. But self-interest is not a moral justification.
This is followed by a discussion about how the Mutually Assured Destruction strategy of the Cold War was a way to make a prudential decision, not a moral one. Today, however, drone warfare presents  us with moral decisions. Now, because drones can be so precise and do exactly what we want, it is more ethically challenging because we now have to think carefully about who is a legitimate target. Thus, the rhetoric of legitimate target is masked by the veneer of moral precision thanks to precision weaponry.

Again, I am not sure I really grasped all the arguments, but there they are (best I can tell). 

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