War is undoubtedly a dirty business, usually entailing massive destruction and loss of life on both sides. In an attempt to limit this inevitable death and destruction…
War is undoubtedly a dirty business, usually entailing massive destruction and loss of life on both sides. In an attempt to limit this inevitable death and destruction, philosophers have argued that belligerents must following certain principles in the conduct of warfare; namely, the principles of discrimination (that only legitimate military targets may be attacked) and of proportionality (that the damage done in attacking such targets must not be out of proportion to the military value of the target). These principles have come to be enshrined in International Law through a range of treaties, which are collectively known in military circles as the International Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC).
The essential idea at the heart of Michael Walzer’s supreme emergency argument, or as Brian Orend calls it, the supreme emergency exemption, is that desperate times call for desperate measures. If the situation is dire enough, and the consequences faced are serious enough, then it will be justifiable to act in ways which would normally be prohibited. In concrete terms, what this means is that during a time of war, a state can in some circumstances ignore the usual rules of warfare (i.e. the principles of discrimination and proportionality). Walzer claims this is justified if and only if the following conditions are met: the state is the victim of aggression, the state is about to be militarily defeated, and that the consequences of defeat will be catastrophic (i.e. would include extreme and widespread violations of fundamental human rights). In other words, when faced with a supreme emergency one is justified in engaging in widespread violations of the rights of some people (people to whom one only has a general duty) in order to prevent widespread violations of the rights of others (people to whom one has a specific duty).
In this paper I argue that the ‘rules’ which must be applied in order for widespread rights-violations to be considered justified are actually well understood, and that supreme emergency is not an unusual situation for which new rules must be considered, but simply an important specific example of such a situation. Essentially I argue that one must dirty one’s hands in war, but that there is no need for one’s hands to get any dirtier in a situation of supreme emergency.
This paper provides a novel framework for considering a much-debated question within military ethical fields, using insights from two of the major proponents of contemporary military ethics.
New technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), have helped us begin to take our first steps off Earth and into outer space. But conflicts inevitably will arise and, in the absence of settled governance, may be resolved by force, as is typical for new frontiers. But the terrestrial assumptions behind the ethics of war will need to be rethought when the context radically changes, and both the environment of space and the advent of robotic warfighters with superhuman capabilities will constitute such a radical change. This essay examines how new autonomous technologies, especially dual-use technologies, and the challenges to human existence in space will force us to rethink the ethics of war, both from space to Earth, and in space itself.
This Chapter is written in an era in which the United Nations (UN) routinely deploys Missions to environments that satisfy the armed conflict threshold. Such Missions…
This Chapter is written in an era in which the United Nations (UN) routinely deploys Missions to environments that satisfy the armed conflict threshold. Such Missions often require personnel to employ significant levels of force, whether to safeguard mission and humanitarian personnel, to protect civilians, to neutralise violent armed groups or, in pure self-defence. But use as well as non-use of force can readily frustrate the very objectives these troops are deployed to uphold, in turn creating gaps between the Promises they make and the Outcomes they actually secure. On the other hand, current Missions such as MINUSMA in Mali have proven to be amongst the deadliest for UN troops in the entire history of UN Peacekeeping. The thin line between use and non-use of force must therefore be trodden with utmost care. This Chapter tries to find answers to this dilemma from a moral perspective and considers how the peculiar nature of the morality of resort to force by the UN influences that of its use of force. It assesses why the latter should be calibrated or adjusted to comply with the former, and how this can consequently channel UN troop conduct towards the objectives pursued through deployment. It is only where these realities are understood and addressed, the Chapter submits, that the aforementioned Gaps between Promises and Outcomes can be redressed and closed.
In a series of mid-20th century cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has modified and diversified the status of the enemy in U.S. law. We see a shift away from the statist…
In a series of mid-20th century cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has modified and diversified the status of the enemy in U.S. law. We see a shift away from the statist egalitarian model toward a transnationalized model of enemies. U.S. Supreme Court decisions in three clusters of cases (German enemy aliens, the internment of the West Coast Japanese Americans, and Communist) from the 1940s and 1950s prefigure the radicalized post-9/11 “enemy combatant” status. The choice for such enemy conceptions is both a result of and a contribution to the changes in contemporary practices of violence.
This Chapter applies the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas to business’ role in the ‘War on Terror’. Specifically, it uses Levinasian ethics to explain how organisations…
This Chapter applies the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas to business’ role in the ‘War on Terror’. Specifically, it uses Levinasian ethics to explain how organisations, often with an abundance of ethical resources, become associated with military drones strikes against civilians, and offers ideas that challenge this practice. The chapter comprises several sections beginning with a brief introduction to the ‘War on Terror’ and the use of military drones. A concise discussion about business ethics and just war theory follows after which, the chapter explains Levinas’ ethics and his views on war. These ideas are applied to transform business ethical practice in this controversial area. The Chapter concludes with a summary of its main points.
This chapter presents reflections and considerations regarding artificial intelligence (AI) and contemporary and future warfare. As “an evolving collection of…
This chapter presents reflections and considerations regarding artificial intelligence (AI) and contemporary and future warfare. As “an evolving collection of computational techniques for solving problems,” AI holds great potential for national defense endeavors (Rubin, Stafford, Mertoguno, & Lukos, 2018). Though decades old, AI is becoming an integral instrument of war for contemporary warfighters. But there are also challenges and uncertainties. Johannsen, Solka, and Rigsby (2018), scientists who work with AI and national defense, ask, “are we moving too quickly with a technology we still don't fully understand?” Their concern is not if AI should be used, but, if research and development of it and pursuit of its usage are following a course that will reap the rewards desired. Although they have long-term optimism, they ask: “Until theory can catch up with practice, is a system whose outputs we can neither predict nor explain really all that desirable?” 1 Time (speed of development) is a factor, but so too are research and development priorities, guidelines, and strong accountability mechanisms. 2