Tin Men: Ethics, Cybernetics and the Importance of Soul

TitleTin Men: Ethics, Cybernetics and the Importance of Soul
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsMorkevicius, V
JournalJournal of Military Ethics
Date Published2014
Publication Languageeng
ISBN Number15027570
KeywordsAUTONOMOUS , Drones , Emotions , HUMAN-machine , just , ROBOTICS , SOCIAL , weapons
AbstractThe idea that overly emotional humans make poor ethical actors pervades the current literature on the ethical implications of the development of autonomous weapons systems. From this perspective, developing fully autonomous military robots should be doubly desirable: the technical process of ‘teaching’ robots ethics would finally systematize just war thinking, while robots could uphold the rules of engagement even under the most emotionally trying of situations. This article addresses my doubts about both claims. I argue that truly ethical behavior requires what classical just war theorists would have called soul, or what we might today term conscience – and that the flexibility of the traditional principles reflects this understanding. In pursuit of this argument, this article proceeds in two parts. First, it argues that the apparent ‘messiness’ of just war thought is actually morally useful. Second, it argues that emotions play an important and irreplaceable role in our ethical behavior, particularly as they help us mediate between incommensurable goods and intersecting ethical systems. 
NotesMorkevicius, Valerie 1; Affiliation: 1: Political Science Department, Colgate University, Hamilton, New York, USA; Source Info: 2014, Vol. 13 Issue 1, p3; Subject Term: HUMAN-machine systems; Subject Term: EMOTIONS (Psychology); Subject Term: SOCIAL ethics; Subject Term: WEAPONS systems; Subject Term: ROBOTICS; Author-Supplied Keyword: autonomous weapons; Author-Supplied Keyword: Drones; Author-Supplied Keyword: emotions; Author-Supplied Keyword: just war; Number of Pages: 17p; Document Type: Article