Philosophy & Technology

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 279–291 | Cite as

Is It Morally Right to Use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in War?

  • Linda JohanssonEmail author
Research Article


Several robotic automation systems, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are being used in combat today. This evokes ethical questions. In this paper, it is argued that UAVs, more than any other weapon, may determine which normative theory the interpretation of the laws of war (LOW) will be based on. UAVs have advantages in terms of reducing casualties for the UAV possessor, but they may at the same time make war seem more like a risk-free enterprise, much like a computer game, lowering the threshold for starting a war. This indicates the importance of revising the LOW, or adding some rules that focus specifically on UAVs.


Unmanned aerial vehicles Laws of war Robots 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of PhilosophyRoyal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden

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