Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Drone articles

Today sees a spate of interesting articles on military drones. Here is how the Pentagon envisions the future of drones that really have no human operators (not a likely prospect). Here is another take on that vision. The Pentagon will also be weaponizing more drones: story here. Here is an article about the new testing locations for drones. Time Magazine has an odd article about what drone killing is really like here. And finally, the Navy tells us that Drone videos were among its most popular this year.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Call for Papers - Philosophies of peace and war

Got this in an email

Call for Essays:

Philosophies of Peace and War

Under the guest editorships of Professor W. John Morgan (UNESCO Professor of the Political Economy and Education, School of Education, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK) and Dr. Alex Guilherme (Director, Paulo Freire Center for the Study of Critical Pedagogy, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool, UK), Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice is dedicating issue 25.4 to examining the philosophies of peace and war.

In 1795 France and Prussia signed the Peace of Basel, which established French sovereignty over the West bank of the Rhine whilst allowing Prussia to divide Poland up with Russia and Austria. In that same year Immanuel Kant, one of the most influential Western philosophers, wrote an essay titled, "Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch." In this well-known, philosophical text Kant prescribes a series of six principles and three fundamental articles for a program leading to long-lasting peace among sovereign states. The crux of these self-explanatory principles is that no sovereign state, no matter how large or small, should neither come under the dominion of another state by any means, nor should it be interfered with, and national armies should be abolished completely. The fundamental articles are concerned with the relations between individuals, founded on republicanism; among nations, founded on a federation of free states; and within humanity, founded on the virtue of universal hospitality. Kant's motivation for writing this essay was his indignation at the absurdity of foreign politics and its pursuit of peace through inadequate and often deceptive means. He was not the only philosopher, however, to reflect on the subject of peace. Jeremy Bentham, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Richard Price, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Rosa Luxembourg, Nicholas Berdayev, Jane Addams, Maria Montessori, Simone Weil, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Buber, Hannah Arendt and, more recently, Leonardo Boff and Noam Chomsky, to name just a few, have also written on this subject. Others have written philosophies of war and confrontation, such as Sun Tzu, Thomas Hobbes, Carl Schmitt, Carl von Clausewitz, and Frantz Fanon.

We invite essays on philosophical approaches to peace and to war, broadly conceived, or on a particular philosopher's understanding of peace or of war. Interested writers should submit essays (2500-3500 words) and 1-2 line bios to: http://www.usfca.edu/artsci/peace_review/issues/ by April 15th, 2014. Essays should be jargon- and footnote-free, although we will run Recommended Readings. Please refer to the Submission Guidelines. We publish essays on ideas and research in peace studies, broadly defined. Essays are relatively short (2500-3500 words), contain no footnotes or exhaustive bibliography, and are intended for a wide readership. The journal is most interested in the cultural and political issues surrounding conflicts occurring between nations and peoples.

Please direct content-based questions or concerns to Special Editors: Professor W. John Morgan (john.morgan@nottingham.ac.uk) and Dr. Alex Guilherme (guilhea@hope.ac.uk)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cybersecurity and Cyberwar - new book

Here is the website for a new book on Cybersecurity and Cyberwar. If anyone reads it and wants to share a review, I'll post it here. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Life or Death - Call for papers - and a comment

Penn State Philosophy Graduate Student Organization is holding a philosophy conference about "Philosophy, life, death". The Call for papers is here.

I am somewhat struck by the lack of reference to war and soldiers. Soldiers are people who spend an inordinate amount of time 1) learning how to take lives and 2) learning how to prevent their own deaths. You would think, and you would be right, that much philosophical ink has been spilled on this. Their philosophical reflections should be reflected in the canon too. 

Call for Papers: Concussion/mTBI

Got this in an email. This may be of interest to some of the readers here as concussion/mTBI has been so prevalent in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. (UPDATE: New rules about TBI related conditions were just released for the VA. See the stories here and here.) Though the call for papers focuses more on sports (though military as well), similar considerations apply to military situations in most cases. Here are some suggestions of mine that I would hope the journal might consider if anyone were to attempt a paper. Feel free to use them: 

(1) Overlooking TBIs: Does the medic work for the commander or the Soldier?; 
(2) Injurious Weapons: TBI as end result; 
(3) Designing TBI-resistant armor, what sacrifices are legitimate?; 
(4) Should soldiers be warned about TBI in advance? How?; 
(5) How to discharge a Soldier with TBI; 
(6) Should TBI victims get a Purple Heart? When?

Can you think of others?

Call for papers:

This special issue of Neuroethics will focus on concussion and mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI). Concussion/mTBI affects millions of individuals each year and the long term neurological effects of concussion are currently being debated. Concussion is a common injury among professional, amateur and youth athletes in many sports, and has also been called the “signature injury” of military personnel in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. This significant public health problem has received considerable attention in the popular press, and is an area of active research in the neurosciences, but is an underdeveloped area of neuroethical inquiry.

Possible questions and topics for discussion include, but are not limited to:

What can/should neuroethics contribute to discussions about the diagnosis, treatment and management of concussion/mTBI in athletes or military personnel?

Ethical issues bearing upon physicians or other stakeholders in:

implementing or facilitating return-to-play, or return to active duty

preventing athletes from participating in high risk sports

condoning risky sports with their presence (e.g. the ringside doctor at a boxing match)

Conflicts of interest for sporting leagues, concussion experts, and other stakeholders

The team doctor or military physician as “company doctor”

Research ethics and concussion/mTBI

Ethical issues in the use of new technologies for diagnosing, treating or managing concussion/mTBI

Consent and the disclosure of risk

Preserving/protecting autonomy in the at-risk individual

Risky sport participation and the rights of children and adolescents

The ethical obligations of professional sporting leagues with high rates of concussion

Contributions from stakeholders and multidisciplinary scholars are encouraged. The editors welcome early discussion of proposals and/or abstracts by email.

Full papers are due by March 7, 2014. Manuscripts should be submitted to Neuroethics online at: http:// www.editorialmanager.com/nero using code “SI: concussion.” Manuscripts should be of a high quality and will be subject to the normal peer review process of Neuroethics. For submission requirements, format and referencing style, refer to the Author Guidelines at: http://www.springer.com/social+sciences/applied+ethics/journal/12152? detailsPage=societies

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Aerial and maritime drone warfare

Interesting take on drone warfare, perhaps as asymmetric warfare at Salon.com. Also extremely interesting is an article on unmanned maritime systems on the US Naval Institute's site. 

Call for papers: Why War?

Just got this in an email: 

1st Call for Papers

Why War? Peace Studies in the 21st Century.

International Conference to be held as part of the 40th Anniversary Celebrations of the Division of Peace Studies & Humanities, University of Bradford, (and in conjunction with the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War).

Date: 1-3 May 2014

Location: Campus of the University of Bradford (UK)

Why War? A Historical Debate

In 1931 and 1932, a correspondence occurred between two of the greatest intellects of the day, Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud, on the question, “Why War?” Einstein initiated the correspondence, as part of an initiative to promote the contribution of intellectuals to public life. The plan was to initiate debate amongst a network of intellectuals, whose ponderings would be published in the popular press, with the goal of exerting “a significant and wholesome moral influence on the solution of political problems”.

The project of harnessing theoretical and intellectual debate to the resolution of political and policy problems is one that has animated the Department of Peace Studies – now the Division of Peace Studies and Humanities - at the University of Bradford since its founding in 1973. Consequently, as the finale of our 40th anniversary year, we are proud to host an international conference examining the state of peace studies in the 21st Century and the contribution peace studies can make to public policy in the contemporary world.
As part of the conference we invite paper submissions on philosophical aspects of just-war theories and philosophies of peace. Key note speaker: Dr Helen Frowe, Director of the Stockholm Centre for Ethics of War and Peace, University of Stockholm

Paper abstracts of up to 250 words should be submitted to the organising committee by 14 February 2014. The submission must state the title, author(s) name and affiliation, and the relevant thematic stream. Applicants will be notified by 28 February if they have been accepted for the conference.

Conference participation is free but no travel or accommodation grants can be provided.

Registration for the conference opens on 1 December 2013 and continues until 31 March 2014.

For all enquiries or to submit an abstract for consideration, please email peacestudies40@bradford.ac.uk

For more information see conference website: http://www.bradford.ac.uk/ssis/events-and-podcasts/events/peace-events/peace-studies-international-conference-may-2014.php

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Army's "pretty woman" scandal

A little while ago an email was leaked that contained a suggestion that the Army use average looking women in their public relations materials. This suggestion was made by a Colonel as part of a discussion about integrating women into combat roles in the military. The website Politicio made a big to-do about this. The Colonel who initially sent the email got into all sorts of trouble and some are questioning whether or not her "punishment" was justified.

I am no expert on the best way to market the idea of women in combat to the American people. But I assume that people who are, have to take a lot of things into consideration when deciding on the "look" that they want to put on promotional material. I assume that had she said that there should only be unattractive women, or only attractive women on promotional material, the same firestorm would have erupted. Every company presumably takes scores of factors into consideration when deciding on the models for their advertisements. Why is this different?

The Colonel's stated reason is certainly relevant (though only a public opinion survey could tell if it was accurate). Her reasoning was that "In general, ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead. . . There is a general tendency to select nice looking women when we select a photo to go with an article (where the article does not reference a specific person). It might behoove us to select more average looking women for our [communications] strategy. For example, the attached article shows a pretty woman, wearing make-up while on deployed duty. Such photos undermine the rest of the message (and may even make people ask if breaking a nail is considered hazardous duty)." Is her stereotyping of the American people, or perhaps members of the military, the reason she got into trouble? Did she get into trouble for stating a truth that the American public doesn't want to hear? I don't know.

I suspect that advertising agencies around the world send hundreds of emails a day making the exact same point: "We need to use a person who looks like x, because others are perceived in a way not beneficial to us."

Was she wrong to write what she wrote? What do you think?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

van der Vossen on Chatterjee's Ethics of Preemptive War

Here is Bas van der Vossen's NDPR review of Deen Chatterjee's collection on The Ethics of Preventive War.
The review has some important stuff to say about the distinction that the book fails to capture between preemptive and preventive war. The review also praises a few of the chapters that undoubtedly merit such praise. For the most part, the authors he discusses defend the views you'd expect them to defend (though McMahan is still rewarding and sometimes surprising to read).

Importantly, I think, something the reviewer said was long overdue to be mentioned in a respectable book review. He points out that
Distaste for the Bush administration is palpable throughout the volume (for example in the chapters by Brown and C. A. J. Coady). This reader would have preferred the editor to have weeded some of this out, as it is frequently accompanied by claims or assertions that receive no support or reference.
The reviewer goes on. I agree. Way too much really bad "philosophy" makes it into edited collections merely because it is of the "correct" ideological bent. Editors (and in this case Cambridge U Press) should not be in the business of publishing screeds. 

volunteer armies and responsibility

Yesterday's Washington Post carried an Op-Ed by Dana Milbank advocating for some form of conscription. Robert Goldich thinks it is misguided
Here is a very interesting exchange between Rutgers' Jeff McMahan and some respondents about volunteers' culpability for fighting in just wars and the requirement of selective conscientious objection. Worth reading in full.