Army Group

A Quick Thought On Military Drones

Blean Tsige

This essay focuses on Drones, which started to be used as weapons by the Military in 2001 (Colarusso, 2011). The first case involved the US and Afghanistan (Colarusso, 2011). Drones are able to carry missiles or other forms of dangerous weapons. These can kill many people because drones are remotely piloted aircraft (Colarusso, 2011). 


Moral Assessment Of Military Drones

There are problems surrounding the use of drones during military activities (Colarusso, 2011). Because the person in use is not at the place where the killing is happening. This implies that the person who is pressing the button is detached from the danger. Some even suggest that the soldier might not take the risk as seriously (Colarusso, 2011). The screen, the soldier use might make it seem as if this is a video game, instead of real life. The ethics of drone usage in warfare should be morally assessed. This is done by applying utilitarianism and Kant's ethics. In utilitarianism, the people involved are first identified (Bentham, 2000). In this case, the officer is the one who gives the order. This officer, who is the head of the chief, is considered to be the one responsible for the problems. The officer's job is to assess how the soldiers and the people affected by the warfare will react. The soldier is the one who is pressing the button.

Figure 1. Military hats

This soldier is participating by taking orders from the officer. The soldier is fulfilling the orders of authority, regardless of the consequences. In Kant's ethics, two elements are key to assessing morality (Kant et al., 2017). The first is the fact that everyone has a conscience (Kant et al., 2017). The second element is that Kant assumes that everyone is more or less rational (Kant et al., 2017). The issue with drones is that many innocent people have died (Colarusso, 2017). The other problem is that these people affected could not retaliate (Colarusso, 2017). Since the drone is a remotely piloted aircraft. This insinuates the fact that the soldier, who is controlling the drone, has a conscience. This soldier is also more or less rational.

There were a lot of killings because the soldiers blindly followed orders from their officers (Kant et al., 2017). The main aim of the military is to protect their own soldiers (Colarusso, 2011). They don't want to draft ‘18-year-old men and shipping them off to war and getting 50,000 some odd of them killed’ (Colarusso, 2011). In utilitarian words, this would be considered the right decision (Bentham, 2000).  However, the ethical issues surrounding this one-sided protection are significant in Kant’s moral assessment (Kant et al, 2017). There is a lack of human accountability and responsibility. US military, however, continues the use of drones in places like Syria (BBC, 2015). Soldiers should not kill remotely, and if they had a conscience or were reasonable they would consider this not a fair fight. Rather this is an act of pure evil. Thus, according to Kant’s philosophy, the soldiers are at fault (Kant et al., 2017. 

In conclusion, drones are considered dangerous, since the military is aiming to use them. One good part is that the US Military has agreed to not solely use drones as a mechanism in warfare. It was also suggested that drones will never outnumber humans in conflict (Colarusso, 2011). Nonetheless, the debate is ongoing. 



BBC News. (2015, March 18). Syria claims shooting down of US drone over Latakia. BBC News.

Bentham, J. (2000). An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. Batoche Books Kitchener. Pg. 14-18 and 134-139.

Colarusso, L. (2011, May 25). Military Drones and the Ethics of Warfare. HuffPost.

Kant, I., Denis, L., & Gregor, M. (2017). Kant: The Metaphysics of Morals. Cambridge University Press. Pg. 14-30.