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Radical Philosophy Review

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Drone warfare, particularly in the form of targeted killing, has serious legal, moral, and political costs so that a case can be made for an international treaty prohibiting this type of warfare. However, the case would be stronger if it could be shown that killing by drones is inherently immoral. From this angle I explore the moral significance of two features of this technology of killing: the killing is done by remote control with the operators geographically far away from the target zone and the killing is typically the outcome of a long process of surveillance. I argue that remote control killing as such might not be inherently wrong but poses the risks of globalizing conflict and prioritizing troop protection above civilian safety, while the “deadly surveillance” aspect of drone killing makes it most clearly intrinsically wrong.


This is a post-print version of an article originally published in Radical Philosophy Review, 2016, Volume 19, Issue 2.

The version of record is available through: Philosophy Documentation Center.