Saturday, May 31, 2014

Some drone links. . .

This one is specifically dealing with Turkey's problems with drones, but there are a heap of useful embedded links. This is an interesting take on dones and gender and the what's-in-a-name question. And here is an important piece on the reasons why people fear UAVs. This last piece is a good place to start thinking about drones and the ethical/philosophical debate. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Workshop: The War of Ethics in the Ethics of War

From an email:

Dear all,

We are convening a workshop on just war theory, titled 'The War of Ethics in the Ethics of War' at the MANCEPT conference from September 8th - 10th. Please find the abstract below.

Each presenter will have 50 minutes in total, consisting of a 25-30 minute presentation, followed by comments from a discussant and questions from the floor. If you are interested in participating please send an abstract or full paper by June 1st. If sending only an abstract a full paper will be required by July 15th.

Abstracts to be sent to:
Ewan E. Mellor:
Or, Milla Vaha:

The War of Ethics in the Ethics of War

Milla Vaha – Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Turku,
Ewan E. Mellor – Doctoral Candidate, European University Institute,

"War is always judged twice, first with reference to the reasons states have for fighting, secondly with reference to the means they adopt." This is Michael Walzer's canonical statement regarding the independence of the jus ad bellum from the jus in bello which grounds the principle of the moral equality of combatants within the just war tradition. In recent years this principle has come under sustained critical scrutiny from those who believe it is morally incoherent and philosophically unsubstantiated, led by Jeff McMahan and David Rodin, among others. These scholars instead argue for a principle of the moral inequality of combatants, in which combatants would be individually judged according to the justice of the war in which they are fighting. This morally individualist and cosmopolitan approach to the ethics of war would completely transform the nature and practice of war and, concomitantly, the nature of the international system as a whole. The debate over the principle of the moral equality of combatants is also closely related to a number of other debates within international political theory and international ethics, including the debate between communitarianism and cosmopolitanism, debates about the role and place of individual rights in the international system, and debates about the relationship between moral principles and political decision making. 

Although philosophically powerful and persuasive, much of the revisionist debate has been conducted at a high level of abstraction. As such, this workshop seeks to engage with and further the debate about the moral equality of combatants by encouraging contributions that deal with some of the implications of the revisionist argument from a political theory and international relations perspective. It also seeks contributions that explore the implications of this debate for understanding contemporary conflicts and issues in modern warfare, where the revisionist and traditionalist approaches may lead to different conclusions. These could
include, but are not limited to, the use of drones and targeted killings, the war on terror, the detention of 'illegal combatants' at Guantanamo Bay, and so on.

Contributions are encouraged from doctoral students as well as established scholars, and papers may be early drafts or well on the way to completion.

Ewan E. Mellor

Visiting Researcher
School of Political Science and International Studies
University of Queensland

PhD Candidate
Department of Social and Political Sciences
European University Institute

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Big grant for moral robots

The Office of Naval Research is handing out $7.5M to build robots with a sense of right and wrong. Story here. h/t Daily Nous

I am skeptical that this money is being well spent.

UPDATE: For a slightly snarkier take, see here. You may also want to read this take

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Call for Papers - The Ethical Dimensions of Civil War

The Ethical Dimensions of Civil War
ISME 2014

Conference Announcement and Call for Papers October 12-15, 2014
 International Society for Military Ethics

The International Society for Military Ethics is pleased to announce the theme for this year’s annual conference: The Ethical Dimensions of Civil War.’’  

Keynote Address: “A Moral Analysis of the US Civil War,” Kit Wellman, Washington University.

The conference will take place Sunday to Wednesday, October 12-15 at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.  150 years ago, the United States was engaged in a “great civil war.”  
In observance of that fact, and in the light of numerous more recent events, ISME is pleased to accept papers on all aspects of the ethics of civil war for this year’s conference.  Papers from both historical and contemporary perspectives and dealing with both historical and contemporary issues will be considered.  Questions to consider might include:
  -          Under what conditions, and using what means, may one political entity morally separate itself from another?
  -          Under what conditions, and using what means, may one political entity resist such a separation?
  -          Under what conditions, and using what means, may a third political entity intervene in such a conflict?
  -          What legal/moral regime ought to apply to individuals who might simultaneously be considered enemy combatants and fellow citizens?  

Submissions should be sent to no later than 30 June, 2013.  Abstracts are acceptable, although full papers are preferred; but please limit submissions to no more than 7,000 words.  As always, we accept high quality submissions in any area of military ethics.

Don Howard, 

Director Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values
453 Geddes Hall
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556 
Science Matters Blog
574-631-1147 (Office)
574-631-5015 (Program)
574-631-7418 (Fax)

Call for Papers - War in the history of ideas

Conference of the British Society for the History of Philosophy in collaboration with the Netherlands Defence Academy
 War in the History of Ideas
 Tuesday 14 October 2014
 Conference venue
Netherlands Defence Academy, Kraanstraat 4, 4811 MA Breda
 Confirmed key-note speaker professor Azar Gat, Ezer Weizmann Professor of National Security and Chair of the Department of Political Science (Tel Aviv University)
 Organised by Paul Schuurman (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and Paul Donker (Netherlands Defence Academy)
2nd Call for Abstracts
The first centennial in 2014 of the First World War forms the occasion for a one-day conference on War in the History of Ideas. The nature of war, the causes of war, its prevention, its acceptability, war as a cultural phenomenon, the relation between war and philosophy, war and religion, war and politics, war and economics and the nature of military genius have all been the object of intense scrutiny by the greatest thinkers in the history of ideas and will form as many scholarly topics during this one-day conference.

The conference will be opened by Azar Gat, author of A History of Military Thought (2001), War in Human Civilization (2206) and numerous other books and articles.

We welcome proposals for 25-minute papers (plus 10 minutes question time) on all topics bearing on the conference theme. The conference is organised for scholars and students who are interested in the wide field where the history of ideas meets the history of warfare. The papers will be presented in parallel sessions. Papers by established scholars and PhD-students are encouraged.
Please send an abstract of no more than 400 words to Paul Schuurman, or to Paul Donker P.Donker.02@NLDA.NL by 1 June 2014 as a pdf attachment.

In the body of the email, please state the title of your paper; your name and institutional affiliation; and your preferred email contact address.
In the subject line of the email, please state ‘War in the History of Ideas’ plus your last name.

Paul Schuurman
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Faculty of Philosophy
P.O. Box 1738
3062 PA Rotterdam