The ethics of drones

Thomas Nagel
London Review of Books

American philosopher Thomas Nagel attempts to lay out an ethical framework for how the rights and wrongs of drone warfare may be judged.

He argues that most people believe that lethal violence may be used in self-defence, or the defence of others, against potentially lethal threats. Military action is justified by a collective institutional version of this basic human right, which sets an outer limit on the right to life. Lethal aggressors who cannot be stopped by lesser means are liable to lethal attack, and this does not violate their right to life so long as they remain a threat. Killing in self-defence is distinct from execution. It is also usually distinct from assassination – though occasionally someone who is a lethal threat to the assassin or his community may be targeted.

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