Radical Philosophy Review

Volume 19, Issue 2, 2016

Spaces of Control: Confronting Austerity and Repression

Harry van der Linden
Pages 331-358

Arguments against Drone Warfare with a Focus on the Immorality of Remote Control Killing and "Deadly Surveillance"

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.