Learning to Live with Drones: Answering Jeremy Waldron and the Neutralist Critique

Journal of Military Ethics 14 (2):128-145 (2015)
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ABSTRACTAmong the most forceful and provocative criticisms that have been leveled at US drone strikes against alleged terrorists far from conventional battlefields has been Jeremy Waldron's charge that they cannot be justified in terms of a neutral principle that most reasonable people would accept. In essence, Waldron asks ‘whether we are comfortable with [such a norm] in the hands of our enemies’. He thinks most people will say ‘no’ and that this is a reason not to embrace a permissive norm in the first place. We will argue that a key assumption in Waldron's argument is highly contestable, and that if it is challenged, the whole argument can be turned inside out to provide support for a limited drone program aimed at terrorist leaders. In essence, if the suspected terrorists who are the targets of drone strikes are understood to be combatants rather than civilians, as the US government has forcefully argued that they should be, then the norm permitting strikes against them is the humanitarian principle..



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Avery Plaw
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

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The ethics of killing in war.Jeff McMahan - 2004 - Ethics 114 (4):693-733.
The ethics of killing in war.Jeff McMahan - 2006 - Philosophia 34 (1):693-733.

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