Journal of Military Ethics

The Ethics of Killer Applications: Why Is It So Hard To Talk About Morality When It Comes to New Military Technology?

ABSTRACT

We live in a world of rapidly advancing, revolutionary technologies that are not just reshaping our world and wars, but also creating a host of ethical questions that must be dealt with. But in trying to answer them, we must also explore why exactly is it so hard to have effective discussions about ethics, technology, and war in the first place?

This paper delves into the all-too rarely discussed underlying issues that challenge the field of ethics when it comes to talking about war, weapons, and moral conduct. These issues include the difficulty of communicating across fields; the complexity of real world dilemmas versus the seminar room and laboratory; the magnified role that money and funding sources play in shaping not just who gets to talk, but what they research; cross-cultural differences; the growing role of geographic and temporal distance issues; suspicion of the actual value of law and ethics in a harsh realm like war; and a growing suspicion of science itself. If we hope better to address our growing ethical concerns, we must face up to these underlying issues as well.