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Lethal Autonomous WeaponsRe-Examining the Law and Ethics of Robotic Warfare$
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Jai Galliott, Duncan MacIntosh, and Jens David Ohlin

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780197546048

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780197546048.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 27 January 2022

Autonomous Weapons and Reactive Attitudes

Autonomous Weapons and Reactive Attitudes

(p.189) 12 Autonomous Weapons and Reactive Attitudes
Lethal Autonomous Weapons

Jens David Ohlin

Oxford University Press

The discourse surrounding Autonomous Weapons Systems (AWS) should encourage deeper consideration of how perceptions and reactive attitudes toward AWS could evolve in such a way to no longer reflect their deterministic nature. As AWS become more sophisticated and demonstrate increased behavioral complexity, it may well become more difficult for soldiers and policymakers to continue to view these systems dispassionately. This chapter draws on P.F. Strawson’s work to demonstrate how humans may find it impossible to fully rid themselves of reactive attitudes toward AWS. This chapter goes on to consider the consequences of humans and AWS in a shared environment. Human beings, whether enemy combatants or civilians, may respond to AWS not as sophisticated but ultimately deterministic actors, but rather as free agents and thus targets for feelings of gratitude or resentment. The link between behavior interpretation, perceived agency, and emotional attitudes has important implications for the deployment of AWS. A common argument in favor of AWS is that they would reduce collateral damage in counterinsurgency operations. It is far from certain that even the detached, calculated, and objective decision-making of an AWS would reduce the reactive response of the local populace. This chapter concludes by noting that some resentment to the lethal use of force is inevitable among civilians and combatants and argues that the deployment of an AWS is an unreliable tool for reducing this response.

Keywords:   reactive attitudes, attitudes toward AWS, perceived agency, behavior interpretation, Military Technology Ethics

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